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Defining Tennessee Education: A Glossary of Education Terms

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A list of acronyms and terms can be found below the alphabetical entries.

 

A

See chronic absenteeism

Academic standards, which may also be referred to as instructional standards, provide a common set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of a grade or course. Standards, which establish expected learning outcomes, differ from curriculum, which is the instructional programming and methods designed to help students reach the learning outcomes. Each individual school district establishes its own curricular programs that support student mastery of Tennessee’s academic standards.

The Tennessee State Board of Education is charged with adopting academic standards and reviewing them every six years at a minimum.

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a law codifying a standards review process for all four core academic areas, including the appointment of Standards Recommendation Committees for math and English/language arts, for science, and for social studies. Math and English language arts standards will be implemented in 2017-18. Science standards were approved for implementation in 2018-19 and social studies standards will be presented to the State Board in 2017, which, upon approval, will be implemented in 2019-20.

See also

  • curriculum
  • State Board of Education

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Accountability in K-12 education typically refers to the process of holding school districts and schools responsible for student performance. Federal accountability requirements are described in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed by Congress in December 2015 to replace both the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and states’ related NCLB waivers. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) received approval of its accountability plan under ESSA from the U.S. Department of Education in August 2017. Tennessee transitioned to the new district and school accountability model in the 2017-18 school year.

The new federal education law continues a focus on accountability, while giving states more flexibility in designing their own systems. States must continue the standards-based reform efforts begun under NCLB, including establishing standards, assessments aligned with standards, accountability systems, and systems of support for low-performing schools.

Tennessee’s accountability system relies on the ability of school districts to serve their schools, with TDOE providing direct supports to assist districts. For the 2017-18 school year, districts were evaluated according to a minimum progress goal. In the 2018-19 school year, districts were evaluated using their value-added scores and students’ achievement scores or annual target metrics, whichever was higher. Districts that fell in the bottom 5 percent with respect to their overall accountability score were designated as In Need of Improvement. Other districts were designated as either Marginal, Satisfactory, Advancing, or Exemplary based on outcomes for all student and subgroup indicators.

TDOE will also continue to identify low-performing schools that need support, designated as priority schools, comprehensive support and improvement schools, and targeted support and improvement schools, and will provide dedicated staff to work with these schools.

In 2016, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law requiring an A-F grading system for all schools to be included on the annual State Report Card. TDOE has plans to assign every school an overall letter grade that is aligned to the Tennessee accountability framework developed under ESSA.

See also

  • chronic absenteeism
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
  • focus school
  • high school graduation rates
  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)
  • No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver
  • priority school

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The Achievement School District (ASD) was created by Tennessee’s First to the Top Act as one of three interventions that the Commissioner of Education may require to turn around the state’s lowest performing schools. An organizational unit of the Tennessee Department of Education, the ASD provides oversight for the operation of schools assigned to it or schools which the ASD itself authorizes. Priority schools, those schools with performance levels that place them in the bottom 5 percent in the state, are eligible to be placed in the ASD. Following state legislation passed in April 2018, no school is identified as a priority school using 2017-18 TN Ready data; however, schools could use data from 2017-18 to come off the priority school list.

The ASD selects priority schools to place in its jurisdiction based in part on community input and neighborhood advisory council processes. The ASD may either directly operate a school or recruit charter operators to convert an existing traditional public school that has been identified as a priority school.

If schools placed within the ASD do not meet or exceed growth expectations (level 4 or 5 growth, as measured by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System or TVAAS) by the third year, the current operator will be replaced with a new operator, a process that could repeat itself up to three times, at years three, six, and nine, if the school fails to meet growth expectations. Schools may stay within the ASD for a maximum of 10 years. Schools may begin to transition out of the ASD and back to their original district if they do not appear on the priority school list – run every three years – for two consecutive cycles. As of the 2019-20 school year, 29 schools operate in the ASD:  27 in Shelby County and two in Metro Nashville.

See also

  • First to the Top Act
  • priority school
  • Tennessee Department of Education
  • Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)

The ACT is a national college admissions test created by ACT, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides assessment, research, and other services to support college and career readiness. ACT, Inc. offers several assessments for students to gauge their skills and knowledge at the middle school, high school, and college levels. ACT also offers assessments for adults in the workforce to gauge their skills and knowledge.

State law requires that all grade 11 students take an exam to assess “student readiness for postsecondary education.” Districts may choose to use the ACT or SAT to fulfill this requirement.

The state provides funding through the Basic Education Program (BEP) for students to take either the ACT or SAT in grade 11. Additionally, economically disadvantaged students may be eligible for two fee waivers to take the ACT at no charge on a national test date.

In 2016, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing retakes of the ACT at no cost to students meeting certain criteria, and in 2017 the state expanded the offer of free retakes to all students in the senior class. Nearly 52,000 seniors from the class of 2018 retook the test, up from 26,000 in 2016, and nearly 40 percent of them increased their overall scores.

The ACT includes subject level tests in English, math, reading, and science. Students receive scores that range from 1 to 36 on each subject and an overall composite score (which is an average of the four subject test scores). The Tennessee Department of Education calculated an ACT composite score (reflecting public school students’ highest score) for the class of 2018 in Tennessee as 20.2, a slight increase over the previous year’s score of 20.1. The state’s participation rate was 97 percent.

The national average composite score calculated by ACT, Inc. for the class of 2018 was 20.8, reflecting both public and private school students’ most recent scores. Using ACT’s same national calculations, it reports Tennessee’s state composite as 19.6.

See also

  • college and career readiness
  • SAT
  • standardized test
  • Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE)
  • Basic Education Program (BEP)

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Adult education refers to educational services provided to adults (over age 17) or minors (ages 16 to 17) with justifiable circumstances who are not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers federal and state funds to help adults prepare for the high school equivalency (HiSET) exam, the American citizenship test, employment, postsecondary opportunities, and economic self-sustainability.  School districts, community colleges, or community-based organizations provide adult education programs in all 95 counties. Programs include Adult Basic Education, high school equivalency test preparation (HiSET), and English for speakers of other languages. Some additional adult education services are also provided and funded by nonprofits, businesses, and other state and local agencies.

See also

  • high school equivalency exam
  • High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)

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The Advanced Placement (AP) program, which is administered by the College Board, provides high school students with rigorous, college-level courses taught by high school teachers in over 30 different subject areas. If students score a 3 or higher on the 5-point AP exams offered at the end of each course, many postsecondary institutions will award students college credit. Tennessee’s public universities and community colleges may award college credit to students with passing AP exam scores.

During the 2017-18 school year, 385 Tennessee high schools offered at least one AP course, and the College Board administered over 50,000 AP exams in the state. The statewide pass rate was 56 percent.

The chart shows College Board AP exams available as of 2019.

Discipline Area

AP Exams

Arts

Art History; Music Theory; Studio Art: Drawing; Studio Art: 2-D Design; Studio Art: 3-D Design

English

English Language and Composition; English Literature and Composition

History & Social Science

Comparative Government and Politics; European History; Human Geography; Macroeconomics; Microeconomics; Psychology; United States Government and Politics; United States History; World History: Modern

Interdisciplinary: Capstone Diploma Program
Research; Seminar  

Math & Computer Science

Calculus AB; Calculus BC; Computer Science A; Computer Science Principles; Statistics

Sciences

Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, Physics C: Mechanics, Physics 1: Algebra-Based, Physics 2: Algebra-Based

World Languages

Language and Culture: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish; Spanish Literature and Culture; Latin

See also

  • College Board

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The American Council on Education (ACE) is a higher education association that includes the presidents of U.S.-accredited, degree-granting institutions. Members include over 1,700 two- and four-year colleges, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit entities. As of May 2018, Tennessee members of ACE included 12 private institutions, 12 public institutions, and six higher education governing bodies. Primary activities include representation and advocacy on federal higher education issues, leadership development, and policy research and information sharing. In recent years, issue areas for ACE have included Pell grant funding, scientific research, tax funding, access for adult learners, programs for veterans, and internationalization of higher education.

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The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is a union of education professionals that describes itself as championing fairness, democracy, economic opportunity, and high quality public education, healthcare, and public services. AFT is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and represents 1.7 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. In May 2018, no Tennessee affiliates were listed on the national website.
Membership includes teachers and other school-related personnel in pre-K through high school; higher education faculty and staff; early childhood educators; government employees from the federal, state, and local levels; nurses; and healthcare professionals. Activities include community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining, and political activism.

See also

  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET)
  • Tennessee Education Association (TEA)

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The Aspire Award is a lottery-funded, need-based supplement to the HOPE scholarship. To qualify for the award, a student must be eligible for a HOPE scholarship and have an adjusted gross income that does not exceed $36,000. A student may receive up to $750 per semester at four-year institutions and $250 per semester at two-year institutions as a supplement to the HOPE scholarship. In addition to fall and spring semesters, the Aspire Award may be used in the summer semester. A student may receive either the Aspire Award or the General Assembly Merit Scholarship, but not both.

In the 2018-19 academic year, about 18,000 students received approximately $84.3 million from the Aspire Award.

See also

  • General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS)
  • HOPE Scholarship
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)

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Assessment is a process used to evaluate student progress in learning and success in achieving educational goals. The use of tests is considered a part of assessment, which may also involve other demonstrations or indicators of student progress, such as portfolios or laboratory assignments.

Assessment may be used in different contexts to refer to large-scale educational assessments, such as state standardized testing programs, or classroom assessments developed and administered by individual teachers.

Formative assessments are generally given frequently throughout a learning term to gauge each student's progress and help teachers plan the instruction that follows based on students' learning needs. Formative assessments can take multiple forms, including a writing assignment, a test, an assigned project or performance, and asking questions. Formative assessments are generally low-stakes tests, meaning they have little, if any, point value for students.

summative assessment is given at the end of a unit (e.g., every six weeks or the end of a school year) to assess students' mastery of a topic after instruction. Examples of summative assessments include a final paper, a midterm exam, and a senior recital. Summative assessments are generally high-stakes tests, meaning they have a high point value for students.

See also

  • standardized test
  • Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP)
  • TN Ready

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B

A balanced calendar, also referred to as modified, year-round, or nontraditional calendar, reorganizes the traditional school calendar by shortening the summer break and lengthening existing breaks within the school year. For example, summer break may be shortened, and spring, fall, and winter breaks may each be increased. The two- to four-week breaks between instructional periods are called “intersessions,” and may be utilized by schools or districts for remedial or accelerated educational activities.


Schools operating on a balanced calendar are required to meet the state standard of at least 180 instructional days. As of the 2011-12 school year, schools are prohibited from starting the school year earlier than August 1, unless the LEA’s board of education votes to establish a year-round or alternative calendar for any or all schools within its district.
 

The Basic Education Program (BEP) is a formula that determines the funding level required for each school system to provide a common, basic level of service for all students. Adopted in 1992, the formula consists of 46 components grouped into four categories: Instructional Salaries and Wages, Instructional Benefits, Classroom, and Non-classroom. The BEP does not require district budgets or spending to reflect the specific funding levels of each component; however, districts are required to meet a few spending requirements:

  • funds from the instructional salaries category must be spent on teachers’ salaries unless districts meet a specified salary threshold, in which case funds may be spent on salaries or benefits,
  • funds from the classroom category must be spent on either teachers’ salaries or benefits or classroom needs (funds from the Non-classroom category can be spent at the districts’ discretion).

Thus, the BEP is generally termed a funding formula rather than a spending plan.

Total state funding of the BEP for 2019-20 was $4.8 billion. The required local share of BEP funding in the same year totaled $2.5 billion.

Calculations using the BEP formula are performed as a two-step process: (1) determination of total funding levels, and (2) division between state and local shares, with adjustments for local jurisdictions’ ability to pay.

Part 1 – Determination of Total Funding

Calculations to determine the funding level of each component are based primarily on average daily student enrollment, also known as average daily membership, or ADM. The BEP funding formula has been classified as a unit cost funding model, allocating a set dollar amount per unit. For example, the BEP allocates the predetermined unit cost of one teaching position for every 25 students in grades 4-6.

Part 2 – Division between State and Local Shares

Each of the four BEP categories is funded with a different state-local split:

  • Instructional Salaries and Wages (e.g., salary unit cost for teaching positions): 70 percent state and 30 percent local
  • Instructional Benefits (e.g., health insurance unit cost and retirement contribution percentage for teaching positions): 70 percent state and 30 percent local
  • Classroom (e.g., unit costs for textbooks and instructional equipment): 75 percent state and 25 percent local
  • Non-classroom (e.g., unit costs for capital outlay and transportation): 50 percent state and 50 percent local

The state and local shares are calculated on the statewide total funding levels for all districts.

The state’s total funding share for each category is allocated among the districts based on the county’s ability to pay, known as its fiscal capacity. (A county’s fiscal capacity is determined by a 50/50 blend of two formulas, one created by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) and one created by the University of Tennessee’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER).)

The application of the resulting fiscal capacity determinations (a process known as equalization) can cause state and local shares of BEP funding to differ from the statewide splits bulleted above. For example, after fiscal capacity is accounted for, one district’s Instructional Salary funding might be 57 percent state and 43 percent local, while another district’s Instructional Salary funding might be 85 percent state and 15 percent local. Because fiscal capacity is based on a county’s ability to generate local education revenue, all school districts within a county, including municipal and special school districts, are assigned the same fiscal capacity.

The local BEP share calculated is the minimum required funding a local jurisdiction must pay in order to receive the state BEP share. This is commonly referred to as the local match. Most Tennessee jurisdictions fund their school districts at levels that exceed the required local match.

See also

  • average daily membership (ADM)
  • Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER)
  • fiscal capacity
  • local match
  • school district (or LEA)
  • Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR)

Although there is no commonly used definition for blended learning, in general it refers to an integrated learning
experience that combines (or blends) face-to-face classroom instruction with online delivery of content and instruction. A blended learning environment also allows students to control some of what they learn. The increased student ownership may permit teachers to differentiate instruction and focus on the students in most need of support. Blended learning was the initial focus of Tennessee’s venture into personalized learning. 

See also 

  • personalized learning 

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A block schedule, which may be used in middle and high schools, consists of three or four longer periods of daily instruction compared to the six-, seven-, or eight-period schedule in a traditional school day.

Common forms of block scheduling include:

  • “4x4” semester plan - where students meet for four 90-minute blocks every day over four quarters
  • alternate day schedule - where students and teachers meet every other day for extended time periods rather than meeting every day for shorter periods
  • trimester plan - where students take two or three courses every 60 days to earn six to nine credits per year.

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C

Capital outlay refers to expenditures for the acquisition of, or additions to, major fixed assets such as land or buildings. Capital outlay also includes the repayment of debt related to such expenditures.

Capital outlay is included in the state's education funding formula, the Basic Education Program (BEP), as a non-classroom component. The formula takes into account a certain cost per square foot, per student, at the elementary, middle, and high school grade levels. The formula also adjusts for equipment costs, architects' fees, debt retirement, and a building lifespan of 40 years. A district's average daily membership (ADM) is then applied to the formula to determine the number of square feet per school system to determine the total amount of state funding to be provided. As a non-classroom component of the BEP, capital outlay is funded at the statewide level based on a 50/50 split between the state and local governments. Each individual district's local match may be higher or lower than 50 percent, however, depending on its fiscal capacity to raise local funds.

See also

  • average daily membership (ADM)
  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • local match

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A career academy is a program within a high school that is linked to a specific career. Career academies link students with peers, teachers, and community partners in a structured environment that encourages academic success. Career academies are one type of small learning community (SLC), and federal discretionary grants have been awarded to school districts through the No Child Left Behind SLC program to support career academies in large public high schools.

Examples of career academies in Tennessee high schools include the Academy of International Business and Communication and the Academy of Aviation and Transportation, both in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

See also

  • small learning community

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Charter schools are public schools operated by independent nonprofit governing bodies that are authorized by one of the following three entities in Tennessee: local boards of education, the Achievement School District (ASD), or the State Board of Education (SBOE). The majority of charters in Tennessee are authorized by local boards of education.

As of the 2018-19 school year, 90 charter schools operate in four Tennessee school districts: Hamilton County Schools (5), Knox County Schools (1), Metro Nashville Public Schools (29), and Shelby County Schools (55). In addition, there are 24 schools operating under the ASD and two operating under the SBOE.

Charter schools must meet the same academic performance standards as traditional public schools, but have greater autonomy in areas such as personnel and salary policies, curriculum and instruction methods, and financial decisions. In exchange for more autonomy, charter schools face a heightened level of accountability. A public charter school must be closed if the Tennessee Department of Education has designated it as a priority school, with academic achievement in the bottom 5 percent in the state. A charter school may be closed if it demonstrates poor academic performance, violates the charter agreement, or fails to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management.

Tennessee law allows for the creation of new charter schools and the conversion of traditional public schools into charter schools. State law prohibits virtual charter schools and the management or operation of charter schools by for-profit corporations.

Eligibility to attend a charter school

If a charter school is authorized by a district, any student who resides within the district may attend the charter school. If applications to the charter school exceed the number of seats available, a lottery shall determine which students attend. Charter schools may also enroll students from other school districts in accordance with their district's out-of-district enrollment policy.

If an existing public school is converted to a charter school, the conversion charter school serves the students zoned to attend the school prior to conversion, but parents have the option to enroll their child in another public school without penalty.

Charter schools in the ASD must accept students who are either zoned to attend or enrolled in a school that is eligible to be placed in the ASD. If capacity remains after admitting all students within the zone, the children of a teacher, staff member, sponsor, or member of the governing body, as well as students who failed to test proficient on the statewide assessment or who are eligible for free or reduced price meals, may enroll in the ASD school. However, no school’s enrollment of such students can exceed 25 percent of the school’s total enrollment.

Funding for charter schools

State law requires that local boards of education allocate to charter schools an amount equal to the school district's per-student state and local funding, including funds that exceed the BEP local match requirement (with the exception of local funds designated for debt obligations and associated debt service). Charter schools in the ASD receive the same funding as charter schools authorized by the local board of education (i.e., an ASD charter school in Memphis receives the same per-student allocation as a charter school authorized by Shelby County Schools). Charter schools are entitled to all applicable federal dollars, including Title I and other Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) funds.

See also

  • Achievement School District (ASD)
  • average daily membership (ADM)
  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • capital outlay
  • charter school authorizer
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
  • local match
  • priority school
  • school board
  • Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act

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Chronic absenteeism is a term used to describe excessive student absences from school for any reason. The term does not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences because either is a measure of lost instructional time. Any absences occurring at any time of year, at any grade level (K-12), and for any reason (e.g., student choice, illness, transportation issues, and out-of-school suspensions) all count toward a student's chronic absenteeism status.

Unlike truancy, chronic absenteeism is not defined in Tennessee state law. However, the Tennessee Department of Education classifies a student as chronically absent if she or he misses at least 10 percent of the school year, or approximately 18 days. Because the definition is based on a percentage of lost instructional time, the measure can be an early warning indicator of potential student performance problems.

Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, chronic absenteeism will be a part of district and school accountability.

See also

  • accountability
  • truancy

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Civic education refers to the study of government and citizenship with the aim of increasing students' understanding of the principles, values, institutions, and history of constitutional democracy in order to participate in community life and the American democratic system.

The Tennessee General Assembly requires that school districts assess students in civics at least once in grades 4 through 8 and at least once in grades 9 through 12. The civics assessments, which began in the 2012-13 school year, differ from other state-mandated assessments in two ways: (1) they are not standardized tests developed by vendors according to state-determined specifications, but instead are developed and implemented by school districts, and (2) they are required to be project-based. The project-based assessment is designed to measure the civics learning objectives contained in the social studies standards and to demonstrate understanding and relevance of public policy, the structure of federal, state, and local governments, and both the Tennessee and the United States constitutions.

Beginning January 1, 2017, Tennessee high school students must also take a United States civics test based on the civics test taken by those wishing to become naturalized citizens. School districts are responsible for creating the test, which must contain 25 to 50 questions pulled from the civics test administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The civics test may be taken anytime during high school (i.e., grades 9 through 12) and districts may allow students to retake the test multiple times to achieve a passing score of 70. A student must pass the civics test to earn a full diploma upon graduation from high school. High schools with graduating classes that have a pass rate of 85 percent on the civics test will be recognized annually on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website as United States civics all-star schools.

In 2019, the Governor’s Civics Seal was created to recognize public schools and local education agencies that implement high-quality civic education programs. The criteria for a school to earn the seal are: 

  • incorporate civic learning across a broad range of grades and academic subjects;
  • provide instruction regarding the nation’s democratic principles and practices;
  • provide professional development opportunities or student resources that facilitate civics education;
  • provide opportunities for students to engage in real-world learning activities;
  • have fully implemented a high-quality, project-based civics education assessment, if applicable;
  • be recognized as a civics all-star school, if applicable.

See also

  • assessment

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Tennessee imposes class size restrictions for all grade levels and for Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes, as set out in state law and State Board of Education rule. The average size of any grade level unit (for example, grades K-3) in a school building may not exceed the required average, though any individual class in the unit may exceed the average. No class may exceed the maximum size.

Grade Level Average Maximum Class Size
K-3 20 25
4-6 25 30
7-12 30 35
Career and Technical Education 20 25

The average class sizes for grades K-3, 4-6, and 7-9 are used in the Basic Education Program (BEP) funding formula to determine the number of regular education teachers that are funded per district.

The General Assembly established class size limits following the Tennessee Project STAR study undertaken in 1985, which concluded that smaller class sizes in the early grades had positive and lasting effects on student learning.

In certain cases, state law permits an individual virtual school to increase the enrollment in virtual classes by up to 25 percent over the maximum class size limits in the table above. To exceed the class size limits, the virtual school must have achieved a school effect score (TVAAS) of 3 or higher as reported by the Tennessee Department of Education in the prior year.

See also

  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)
  • virtual school

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The College Board is a nonprofit organization founded in 1900 to expand access to higher education. The College Board administers the Advanced Placement (AP) program and the SAT college admission exam, as well as other SAT-related exams.

See also

  • Advanced Placement (AP) program
  • SAT

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Competency-based learning is an approach to education that allows students to learn at their own pace and awards credit for evidence of proficiency, not for the amount of time students spend in a classroom.

In some contexts, the term is synonymous with “proficiency based learning,” which the Education Commission of the States defines as

  • an option for students to demonstrate mastery of key knowledge and skills in a given course in lieu of completing seat time.

Competency-based learning may also be referred to as “mastery-based learning.”

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The Community College Reconnect Grant, passed by the General Assembly in 2015, created a grant program for adults who had completed some college credit, but had not yet attained a degree. The grant provided eligible students with a last-dollar scholarship, meaning that a student would use Pell and other grant aid before Community College Reconnect funds were applied for the tuition and mandatory fees at a public two-year institution. The Community College Reconnect Grant served as the pilot program for the Tennessee Reconnect Grant, which was established in 2017 by Public Chapter 448 and was fully implemented in fall 2018.

See also

  • community college
  • Drive to 55
  • Tennessee Reconnect Grant
  • Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC)

The Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA) of 2010 focuses on increasing college completion at Tennessee's public higher education institutions. The CCTA requires the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to:

  • develop a statewide master plan that seeks to increase the education attainment levels of Tennesseans, recognize higher education institutions' different missions, and address the economic, workforce, and research needs of the state,
  • develop a funding formula that distributes public funds to colleges and universities based on their success in achieving higher education outcomes such as student retention, timely progress toward degree completion, degree production, and end of term enrollment, and
  • collaborate in the development of Tennessee Transfer Pathways, an initiative designed to ease the path to a four-year degree for community college students.

The CCTA also directs the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to transition its community college system from independently managed institutions to a unified system and prohibits the four-year universities of the TBR and the University of Tennessee system from offering remedial or developmental education courses.

See also

  • outcomes-based funding formula
  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC)
  • Tennessee Transfer Pathways (TTP)
  • University of Tennessee (UT)

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Although Public Chapters 881 and 1026 (2018) prohibited the use of 2017-18 testing data for identifying priority schools, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) still required the Department of Education to use data inclusive of 2017-18 to identify the bottom 5 percent of schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), a new federal designation for schools in need of improvement. Most schools identified for CSI are also identified as priority schools.

Schools identified as CSI in 2019 include all schools identified in 2018 as priority schools and 2018 CSI schools. Additionally, CSI schools include all schools in the Achievement School District (ASD), regardless of performance, because they are currently receiving the most intensive state intervention.  

Schools identified for CSI include schools that:

  • ranked in the bottom 5 percent based on data from 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 AND
  • earned a one-year TVAAS score of 3 or less in 2016-17 and/or 2017-18 OR
  • had a graduation rate of less than 67 percent for the 2017-18 school year OR
  • are in the Achievement School District (ASD).

See also

  • accountability
  • Achievement School District (ASD)
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
  • focus school
  • priority school
  • Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)

Corporal punishment refers to paddling, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment imposed on a student as a method of discipline. State law allows corporal punishment to be used in Tennessee public schools and directs local boards of education to adopt policies governing its use within their districts. As of August 2017, 109 districts have a board policy allowing the use of corporal punishment; the remaining 39 districts do not allow its use, either explicitly through policy or through lack of a board policy allowing its use.


In 2018, the General Assembly passed legislation preventing the use of corporal punishment for a student with disabilities (i.e., a student receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and/or the Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973) unless the student’s parent provides written consent, effective July 1, 2018.


Data on the use of corporal punishment is reported biennially (i.e., once every two years) to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the U.S. Department of Education, and because of additional legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2018, will also be reported annually to the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) beginning in the 2018-19 school year. When reporting to TDOE, schools will include information about each instance of corporal punishment, including the reason for its use, if the instance involved a student with disabilities, and if so, information regarding the student’s type of disability. TDOE will report on its website the number of instances corporal punishment is used in each district for students with and without disabilities.
 

See also:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The cost differential factor (CDF) is used to adjust salary calculations in the state's education funding formula, the Basic Education Program (BEP), for school districts in counties where wages in nongovernmental sectors are above comparable statewide figures. The CDF was developed based on the idea that school districts in counties with generally higher wages may need to offer higher salaries to attract and retain teachers. Counties with above-average wages receive an increase in funding for salaries and retirement contributions, and counties with average or below-average wages do not receive an increase.

BEP 2.0, passed in 2007, eliminated CDF from the funding formula. Because BEP 2.0 was only partially phased in, however, counties qualifying for a CDF adjustment received 50 percent of the calculated CDF. The 2016 changes to the BEP decreased CDF adjustments to 25 percent, and the appropriations act further reduced CDF to 20 percent in fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19, and 16 percent in fiscal year 2019-20. In fiscal year 2019-20, 15 districts were receiving CDF adjustments. The CDF is still slated to be eliminated from the BEP formula contingent on future increases to the Instructional Salaries and Wages category.

See also

  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • fiscal capacityy

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Credit recovery is a strategy that permits high school students who have failed courses to recover course credits, allowing them to graduate. Successfully providing credit recovery options for students may also help schools, districts, and states improve their graduation rates.

Schools may provide credit recovery in a variety of settings, including traditional classrooms and online or a combination of the two, and at various times, including before, during, and after school, as well as during the summer months. Students may repeat entire courses or credit recovery may be designed to target student deficiencies in specific concepts. The latter approach is more likely to occur in an online setting.

Most Tennessee districts with high schools provide a credit recovery option for students in the high school grades. On December 15, 2016, the State Board of Education adopted a revised high school policy, which requires that local boards of education adopt credit recovery program rules, regulations, and processes. At a minimum, local credit recovery policies must address standards for student admission to and removal from credit recovery, instruction, content and curriculum, and grades.

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Curriculum is instructional programming designed to help students reach learning outcomes set out in academic standards. Each local school district uses the academic standards approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education as the basis for developing curriculum – the subject matter that teachers and students cover in class.

See also

  • academic standards

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As defined by the Educational Testing Service, a nonprofit company that develops, administers, and scores a variety of tests used in K-12 and postsecondary education,

  • Cut scores are selected points on the score scale of a test. The points are used to determine whether a particular test score is sufficient for some purpose. For example, student performance on a test may be classified into one of several categories such as basic, proficient, or advanced on the basis of cut scores.

  • The setting of cut scores on widely used tests in educational contexts requires the involvement of policymakers, educators, measurement professionals, and others in a multi-stage, judgmental process. Cut scores should be based on a generally accepted methodology.

See also

  • standardized test

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D

Direct certification is a process allowing students in households that qualify for one government assistance program to automatically qualify for other government programs. For example, school districts may automatically enroll students in the federal Free and Reduced Price Meals program if those students come from households that are already enrolled in one of the following assistance programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Head Start

A separate application or additional paperwork related to free and reduced price meals is unnecessary once a student has been directly certified. School districts must conduct direct certification three times per year to ensure eligibility.

Students who are directly certified are automatically defined as “economically disadvantaged” or “at risk” for purposes of school accountability and state funding through Tennessee’s Basic Education Program (BEP).

See also

  • accountability
  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • economically disadvantaged students
  • Free and Reduced Priced Meals (FRPM)

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Distance education refers to academic programs that allow students who are not physically present in the classroom to attend classes online, either synchronously (in real time), or asynchronously (at any time).

Many of Tennessee's public and private higher education institutions offer distance education, either as individual courses or as full online degree programs. Some higher education programs allow students to complete their degree coursework entirely online, although students may be required to physically attend an orientation session or meetings on campus at some point during the program. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) requires any institution that offers distance education programming to Tennessee students to maintain school authorization and establish a physical presence in the state.

Tennessee is one of 47 states that have joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) initiative, which offers a process for institutions authorized to grant degrees in their home states to offer postsecondary distance education programs to students in other states.

The State Board of Education has policies on distance learning and e-learning for K-12 students in Tennessee public schools. Districts may offer online programming for students with health-related issues, for credit recovery, for alternative learning settings, and for other reasons.

See also

  • virtual school

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Drive to 55 is a statewide initiative, begun in 2013, to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential to 55 percent by 2025. In 2017, 42.7 percent of Tennesseans, ages 25-64, had a postsecondary credential. Under this initiative are several programs designed to improve access to postsecondary education and increase degree completion, such as the Tennessee Promise, Advise TN, and Tennessee Reconnect. 

See also

  • Tennessee Reconnect
  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC)
  • Tennessee Promise

See high school dropout rates.

A dual credit course allows high school students to earn credits for a high school course that can also be counted as credits for a postsecondary institution. Tennessee has two types of dual credit courses: statewide and local. Both types are high school courses.

Statewide dual credit courses are high school courses that are aligned to postsecondary standards. Students can earn credit that can be applied to any Tennessee public postsecondary institution. High school and postsecondary faculty work together to develop learning objectives aligned with postsecondary standards. Students enrolled in a statewide dual credit course take an online challenge exam, developed and approved by the Consortium for Cooperative Innovative Education, that assesses mastery of the learning objectives. The Consortium for Cooperative Innovative Education − composed of the chief executives or their designees of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State Board of Education, and the University of Tennessee − must approve all statewide dual credit courses before they are introduced. The 2018-19 course offerings included eight courses in pilot phase and three in full implementation.

A local dual credit course is provided through a partnership between a local postsecondary institution and a K-12 public school district. High school students earn credit through an assessment that is developed and/or approved specifically for credit at that institution.

See also

  • dual enrollment

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Dual enrollment courses are postsecondary courses open to high school students who may enroll and earn college level credits while still in high school. Under dual enrollment, a high school student is enrolled at the postsecondary institution and earns postsecondary credit after successfully completing a course. High school credit is awarded based on local policy. Dual enrollment courses may be taught at the postsecondary campus, the high school, or online.
Dual enrollment courses are taught by postsecondary faculty or credentialed adjunct faculty, who may also be employed as high school teachers. Dual enrollment instructors must meet postsecondary requirements, but do not have to meet specific Tennessee teacher licensure or endorsement requirements.


The dual enrollment grant is one of the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarships, and it provides grant funding for dual enrollment tuition and fees. Students receive funding for one dual enrollment course per semester, with funding for an additional course per semester if they meet the minimum HOPE Scholarship academic requirements at the time of dual enrollment.


For two -year and four-year institutions, the grant awards up to $500 for the first course, up to $500 for the second course, and up to $200 for the third course, with no award for the fourth course. The grant awards up to $100 per credit hour for courses five through eight with an annual maximum of $1,200. For Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs), the grant awards up to $100 per clock hour up for courses one through eight to $1,200 per academic year.
Students who receive more than four dual enrollment grants over their time in high school will have the additional amount reduced from their HOPE Scholarship awards.

See also

  • dual credit
  • HOPE Scholarship
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)

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Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by difficulties with word recognition and interpretation, as well as poor spelling. These difficulties can affect a student’s ability to comprehend what he or she reads, which adversely affects vocabulary development and contextual understanding. It is estimated that one in five school-age children exhibit some of the characteristics of dyslexia.

In 2016, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the “Say Dyslexia” bill which directed the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) to develop procedures for identifying the characteristics of dyslexia through the universal screening process required by the existing Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI²) framework, or other available means.

While each local school district is required to implement the dyslexia screening procedures and students will be evaluated through the already existing RTI² framework, screening can be requested at any time by a student’s parent or guardian, teacher, counselor, or school psychologist. If a student’s screening shows characteristics of dyslexia, a tiered intervention is to be implemented; the student’s progress is to be monitored; and the school must notify the student’s parents or legal guardian, as well as provide them with information and resources regarding dyslexia.

Each school district is required to convene a school-based team to review and analyze screening and monitoring data to assist teachers in developing the best methods to aid students identified with dyslexia. Additionally, TDOE is required to provide educators with training resources to aid in identification of dyslexia characteristics and proven approaches to intervention.

The “Say Dyslexia” bill also directs TDOE to create a dyslexia advisory council, which will meet quarterly and advise the department on matters relevant to dyslexia.

See also

  • Response to Intervention (RTI)
  • universal screener

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E

Early postsecondary opportunities (also known as EPSOs) allow students to earn postsecondary credits while in high school, become familiar with postsecondary expectations, develop confidence and skills for success in postsecondary opportunities, make informed postsecondary and career decisions, and decrease the time and cost of completing a certificate or degree.

Early postsecondary opportunities available in Tennessee vary widely by school district. Examples include dual enrollment, local dual credit, statewide dual credit, advanced placement (AP), Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), International Baccalaureate (IB), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and Student Industry Certification (SIC).

Beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, school districts will be required by the state to make available at least four early postsecondary opportunities for high school students. These opportunities, to be defined by the Tennessee Department of Education, may be provided through traditional classroom instruction, online or virtual instruction, blended learning, or other educationally appropriate methods.

See also

  • Advanced Placement (AP) program
  • dual credit
  • dual enrollment
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • Student Industry Certification (SIC)

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End of Course (EOC) exams are high school level standardized assessments given annually as part of the TN Ready testing program. Two EOC exams were eliminated in 2018-19 to reduce the testing burden on students. Exams are administered to students enrolled in:

  • Algebra I
  • Algebra II
  • Biology
  • English I
  • English II
  • Geometry
  • Integrated Math I
  • Integrated Math II
  • Integrated Math III
  • U.S. History and Geography

State Board of Education policy requires local districts to set policies for incorporating students’ EOC scores into final course grades, EOC scores must be weighted between 15 percent and 25 percent of the course grade average.  If EOC scores are not received by districts within the last five instructional days of the course, districts may opt to not include the exam scores in students’ final course grade.

See also

  • standardized test
  • Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP)
  • TN Ready

E-rate is a federal program that provides discounts of up to 90 percent to help eligible public and nonprofit K-12 schools and libraries obtain affordable telecommunications services and Internet access. Schools, school districts, and libraries, individually or as a consortium, must conduct a competitive bidding process for services and may then apply for the E-rate discount. The level of funding support and discounts depend on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served. E-rate is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company, an independent, not-for-profit corporation, which is under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.

Between 1998 and 2014, eligible Tennessee schools, libraries, and consortia received an average of $53 million each year through the E-rate program.

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Tennessee state law and State Board of Education rule define expulsion as

  • removal from attendance for more than ten (10) consecutive days or more than fifteen (15) days in a month of school attendance. Multiple suspensions that occur consecutively shall constitute expulsion. The school district shall not be eligible to receive funding for an expelled student.

See also

  • suspension
  • zero tolerance

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Extended learning time (ELT) in schools, either through more hours in the day or more days in the week or year, is one of many reforms designed to improve student achievement in low-performing schools, especially those in urban, disadvantaged neighborhoods. The number of hours schools add when implementing extended learning time can vary significantly, ranging from 90 hours per year (30 minutes added per day) to more than 320 hours per year (two hours added to most days and five days more per year).

ELT is one of several required strategies for low-performing schools that accept federal School Improvement Grants, though the U.S. Department of Education does not require that schools add a specific number of hours to comply with federal grant conditions. ELT is also a common practice in many charter schools.

See also

  • School Improvement Grant (SIG)

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F

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records, including:

  • the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school;
  • the right to request that a school correct records they believe to be inaccurate or misleading, and the right to a hearing and to place a written statement within the record if the school disagrees with the parents; and
  • the right to a hearing and to place a written statement within the record if the school disagrees with the parents.

These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.

Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent (or eligible student) in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions:

  • school officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • other schools to which a student is transferring;
  • specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  • organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • accrediting organizations;
  • to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
  • appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • state and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific state law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow them a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA.

See also

  • student data privacy

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Fiscal capacity is a statistical estimate of a county's relative ability to raise revenue. When applied to the Basic Education Program (BEP), the state's K-12 education funding formula, fiscal capacity estimates result in the state directing a higher proportion of state funds to districts with less ability to raise local revenue, a process known as equalization.

Under the BEP, the state funds 70 percent of both instructional components, 75 percent of classroom components, and 50 percent of non-classroom components on a statewide basis. The level of state funding for individual districts varies considerably, however. For example, a district with higher fiscal capacity has been determined through the BEP formula to possess a greater ability to raise revenue through local sources and may receive state funds of 50 percent for classroom components, while a district with lower fiscal capacity has been determined through the BEP formula to possess less ability to raise local revenues, and as a result may receive state funds of 75 percent for the same classroom components.

The fiscal capacity of each county is determined through a 50/50 blend of two indices, one created by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and one created by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR). The CBER model determines a county's capacity to raise local revenues for education from its property and sales tax base. The TACIR model evaluates factors such as the per-pupil own-source revenue (i.e., revenue raised directly by local governments), per-pupil equalized property assessment, per-pupil taxable sales, per-capita income, tax burden, and service burden of the county.

See also

  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER)
  • cost differential factor (CDF)
  • Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR)

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In general, a fiscal year is an official 12-month accounting period. In Tennessee, the fiscal year for state and local governments is July 1 through June 30. The federal fiscal year is October 1 through September 30.

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In both K-12 and higher education, a flipped classroom “flips” the traditional lecture/homework structure. Under a traditional model, students are typically first exposed to material through a lecture during class time, and further explore concepts through homework and assignments. In a flipped classroom, by contrast, students are first introduced to material outside of class through pre-class reading assignments or online video lectures. Often, students complete an accompanying task or assignment before class, then use the class period to discuss ideas, problem solve, and focus on higher level cognitive activities.

Proponents of a flipped system argue that by allowing students to learn basic concepts and build foundational knowledge on their own, students can use class time to answer questions and work through more difficult concepts under teacher supervision.

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The Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) Act, passed in 2016, is a state law that changed the governance of Tennessee’s public universities previously governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). The affected institutions are Austin Peay State, East Tennessee State, Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, and the University of Memphis.

The FOCUS Act created local governing boards of trustees for each university that are responsible for the management, control, and operation of the university. The local governing boards are appointed by the Governor and are subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Boards assumed their new roles in summer 2017.

TBR remains the governing body for the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology (TCATs).

The FOCUS act also required the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to take on new roles, such as training local governing board members, approving institutional mission statements, coordinating capital projects, and collecting higher education data.

The FOCUS act of 2016 is distinct from the UT FOCUS act, passed in 2018, which restructured the University of Tennessee’s board of trustees and created advisory boards for each of the UT campuses (Knoxville, Martin, Chattanooga, and the Health Sciences Center).

See also

  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC)
  • University of Tennessee FOCUS Act

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See Targeted Support and Improvement Schools.

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Free and Reduced Price Meals are provided to eligible students as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program (often referred to as the Free and Reduced Price Lunch or FRPL program); the programs are administered by the Tennessee Department of Education. All public schools in Tennessee participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which makes nutritious, affordable lunches available for purchase to all students. The lunches, and breakfasts offered at participating schools, are provided free or at a reduced cost for eligible students.

Students are eligible for free meals if their family income is at or below 130 percent of the poverty level; students from families with incomes above 130 percent, but no more than 185 percent, of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals.

School districts may also directly certify students through household enrollment in another qualifying assistance program. Once directly certified, the student automatically becomes eligible for free and reduced priced meals. The household does not have to submit a separate application or complete any additional paperwork.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is an option that allows all students, regardless of economic status, to participate in the NSLP. Eligibility for CEP requires a district or school or group of schools to have at least 40 percent of students who are directly certified.

See also

  • direct certification
  • economically disadvantaged students

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The federal government requires that individuals complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for federal student aid and federal loan programs in postsecondary institutions. Federal student aid comes in several forms: grants, work-study, and student loans. The FAFSA is also required for several Tennessee-specific scholarship and grant programs, including the HOPE lottery scholarships, the Tennessee Promise, and the TCAT Reconnect Grant. 

The Office of Federal Student Aid, a federal office, is responsible for managing student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

See also

  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)
  • Tennessee Promise
  • Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC)
  • Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965

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Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is an educational right of children with disabilities that is guaranteed by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). One of the purposes, as stated in the IDEA, is

  • to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.

See also

  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Individuals with Disabilities EducationAct (IDEA)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • special education

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G

The General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS) is a lottery-funded, merit-based supplement to the HOPE Scholarship for students who have an overall weighted high school grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.75 and a minimum ACT score of 29 (or minimum SAT score of 1330). Students must meet all of the other HOPE Scholarship requirements.

The GAMS award amount is $500 per semester. A student may receive either the GAMS or the Aspire Award, but not both.

Approximately 8,200 students received about $40.3 million total from the GAMS in the 2018-19 academic year.

See also

  • ACT
  • Aspire Award
  • HOPE Scholarship
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)

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The General Education Development (GED) test is an exam that individuals not currently enrolled in high school can pass to earn a high school equivalency diploma. As of July 2016, the GED is no longer offered in Tennessee. The only high school equivalency exam offered in Tennessee is the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET).

See also

  • high school equivalency exam
  • High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)
  • high school graduation rates

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H

See outcomes-based funding formula.

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In 2013, the General Assembly created the position of Higher Education Resource Officer (HERO) within the office of the Comptroller of the Treasury. The HERO was established to help resolve issues, answer questions, and provide information to Tennesseans who are faculty, staff, or employees of Tennessee’s higher education institutions and systems. The HERO reviews the organizational and financial operations of the institutions and systems, and evaluates higher education administrative policies.

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The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, originally signed into law in 1987, provides a range of services to homeless individuals and families. One section of the law, added in 1994 to the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and now a part of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), places certain requirements on states and school districts to ensure that each homeless child and youth has access to the same public educational services as other children and youth. The act defines homeless children and youth as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes:

  • children and youths who are
    • sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled up”);
    • living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
    • living in emergency or transitional shelters; or
    • abandoned in hospitals;
  • children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
  • children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
  • migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.

The U.S. Department of Education awards McKinney-Vento funds annually to states by formula, based on the proportion of funds each state receives under Title I, Part A of the ESEA. The award is conditional ‒ if states choose to accept McKinney-Vento funding, and currently all do, then they must carry out the act’s provisions. States are required to award at least 75 percent of the total state allocation to school districts through competitive grants. If a state chooses to accept McKinney-Vento funding, every school district in the state must provide services to homeless children and youth whether or not the district receives a subgrant, and the state is responsible for providing technical assistance to all school districts. The remaining grant funds not distributed as subgrants may be used to carry out the functions of the State Coordinator for Education of Homeless Children and Youths, which is required to be established in each state.

The Tennessee Department of Education was awarded $1,626,191 in federal McKinney-Vento funds for fiscal year 2018.

In school year 2016-17, Tennessee school districts served 16,851 homeless children and youths.

See also

  • economically disadvantaged students
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)

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Tennessee’s HOPE Scholarship is a lottery-funded, merit-based scholarship for postsecondary education. Eligible students must have either an overall weighted high school grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 or attain a composite ACT score of at least 21 (or combined SAT score of at least 1060). Students who earn a high school equivalency diploma by taking the HiSET exam may also qualify with a minimum score of 15. (Although Tennessee no longer gives the GED exam, a student who becomes a Tennessee resident and who has taken the GED previously can qualify with a minimum score of 170.) Since 2015, full-time freshmen and sophomores at four-year institutions and two-year institutions with on-campus housing receive up to $1,750 per semester; full-time juniors and seniors receive up to $2,250 per semester. The HOPE Scholarship awards up to $1,500 per semester for other two-year institutions.

To continue receiving a HOPE Scholarship, a student shall maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 at the 24- and 48-semester hour thresholds, maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 at the end of any subsequent academic year, reapply for the grant at specific points in time, and continue to meet non-academic requirements. A student can receive the award until either five years have passed from the date of initial enrollment at any postsecondary institution, the student has attempted 120 semester hours (or 136 hours for programs exceeding 120 semester hours), or the student has completed eight full-time semesters.

The HOPE Scholarship includes three programs designed for students who meet certain criteria: the HOPE Access Grant, the Nontraditional HOPE Scholarship, and the HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant.

HOPE Access Grant

The HOPE Access Grant requires students to have a weighted cumulative high school GPA between 2.75 and 2.99 out of 4.0 and an ACT score between 18 and 20 (out of 36) (or SAT combined score between 960 and 1050), as well as an adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less. Beginning fall 2015, the award provides up to $1,250 at a four-year institution and $875 at a two-year institution.

The HOPE Access grant is available only for the first 24 semester hours attempted by eligible students. On meeting certain GPA requirements at the end of the 24 semester hours, a HOPE Access Grant recipient may gain eligibility to receive the HOPE Scholarship or Aspire Award.

Nontraditional HOPE Scholarship

The Nontraditional HOPE Scholarship is for eligible students who are 25 or older, have an adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less, and meet other basic eligibility criteria. The award amount is the same as the HOPE Scholarship. To maintain the award, a student must be continuously enrolled and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 at the 24- and 48-semester hour thresholds and maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 at the end of any subsequent academic year. Recipients of the award are not eligible for the Aspire Award or the General Assembly Merit Scholarship.

HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant

A student eligible for the HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant must certify foster child status and meet the requirements of the HOPE Scholarship or HOPE Access Grant. The award amount shall be the cost of attendance (tuition and mandatory fees), less any gift aid. The grant shall not exceed the statewide average for tuition and mandatory fees.

See also

  • Aspire Award
  • General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS)
  • High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)

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I

ISTE Standards (formerly the NETS) were developed and are maintained by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). ISTE is a nonprofit educator membership organization dedicated to supporting the use of information technology to aid in learning and teaching. ISTE created and maintains education technology standards for students, teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and computer science educators.

The Tennessee Educational Technology Association (TETA) is an ISTE affiliate. TETA individual members are employed in 109 Tennessee school districts and seven other educational organizations.

J              

No terms

K

No Terms

L

Local match is the commonly used term for the required share of total Basic Education Program (BEP) funds that local jurisdictions must allocate to schools in order for the school district to receive its state-funded share of BEP dollars.  The Tennessee Department of Education uses the BEP funding formula to calculate a total dollar amount for each public school district, which is then funded on a shared basis between the state and each local jurisdiction that operates a school system (county, city, or special school district). The majority of districts are funded by their local jurisdictions at levels above their required BEP local match.

The state and local shares of BEP funding are prescribed by law for the four BEP categories:

  • Instructional Salaries and Wages (salary for teaching positions): 70 percent state and 30 percent local,
  • Instructional Benefits (benefits for teaching positions): 70 percent state and 30 percent local,
  • Classroom (textbooks, instructional equipment, etc.): 75 percent state and 25 percent local,
  • Non-classroom (capital outlay, transportation, etc.): 50 percent state and 50 percent local.

These prescribed state and local shares are calculated on the total, statewide BEP funds of all districts combined. The resulting dollar amount of the total local shares is then divided among each district based on the local county's ability to pay, known as its fiscal capacity. (Municipal and special school districts within a county are assigned the same fiscal capacity as the county school district.) After fiscal capacity formulas have been applied, the resulting local share for an individual district may differ from the state and local splits required for the statewide totals. For example, after fiscal capacity is accounted for, one district's instructional funding might be 57 percent state and 43 percent local, while another district's instructional funding might be 85 percent state and 15 percent local.

See also

  • average daily membership (ADM)
  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • fiscal capacity

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A locally-governed institution is one of the six public universities that shifted governance from the Tennessee Board of Regents to a local governing board of trustees as a result of the 2016 FOCUS Act. The six universities are Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, and University of Memphis.

See also

  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  • Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) Act

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A last-dollar scholarship refers to a funding model in which a student draws from other funding sources before being awarded the last-dollar scholarship. Tennessee Promise, TCAT Reconnect, and Tennessee Reconnect are last-dollar scholarships available to eligible Tennessee residents. To qualify for these last-dollar scholarships, applicants are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines other federal and state scholarships and grants the applicant is eligible to receive.

Tennessee Promise and Reconnect scholarship dollars are applied to a student’s remaining balance of tuition and mandatory fees after funds for the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS),the  Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA), and the Pell grant have first been applied. Because Tennessee Promise and Reconnect are applied after these other sources of gift aid, a Promise or Reconnect student’s award amount can range from zero to the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees.

See also

  • Drive to 55
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • TCAT Reconnect
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarships (TELS)
  • Tennessee Promise
  • Tennessee Reconnect Grant
  • Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA)
  • tuition and mandatory fees

M

No terms 

N

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a national system of testing in K-12 schools to measure what U.S. students know and can do in core subjects. NAEP collects and reports academic achievement results at the national level and, for certain assessments, at the state and district levels. NAEP results are not reported at the school or individual student level. Assessment results are referred to as “The Nation's Report Card” once they have been processed and compiled into results that are presented to the public.

NAEP assesses several subject areas at the national level: mathematics, reading, science, and writing, as well as the arts, civics, economics, foreign language, geography, technology and engineering literacy, and U.S. history. NAEP assesses mathematics and reading at the national level every two years, and assesses science, writing, and the other subject areas less frequently. The national NAEP includes students at grade levels 4, 8, and 12.

NAEP assesses four subjects at the state level: mathematics, reading, science, and writing. Since 2003, all 50 states have participated in state-level NAEP assessments for reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8. The state-level NAEP is also given at grade 12 in some states. The state-level assessments for reading and mathematics occur every two years, and are administered along with the national level assessments. Science and writing are assessed less frequently. NAEP state assessments began in 1990; Tennessee first participated in 1992.

The national NAEP assesses students in public and private schools. State-level NAEP assesses students in public schools only.

Not every school or student participates in NAEP assessments. NAEP tests small samples of students at grades 4, 8, and 12 for the national and state-level assessments. To ensure that a representative sample of students is assessed, NAEP is given in schools with students that reflect the varying demographics of a specific jurisdiction – i.e., the nation, a state, or a district.

On November 7, 2013, the National Assessment Governing Board released the results from the 2013 NAEP in math and reading. Tennessee was one of only three states/jurisdictions that scored higher in 2013 than in 2011 in both subjects at grades 4 and 8. On three of the four assessments, Tennessee's average score was within one point of the national average; although the state is still well below the top scoring states, its gains on NAEP were significant.

The National Assessment Governing Board released the results from the 2015 NAEP in math and reading on October 28, 2015. Tennessee scores in mathematics at grades 4 and 8 stayed at about the same level as the 2013 scores, with no increase. Tennessee scores in reading at grades 4 and 8 stayed about the same as the 2013 scores, with a slight decline.

See also

  • standardized test

The National Education Association (NEA) describes itself as the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing over three million members at every level of education – from pre-school to university graduate programs. The stated mission of the NEA is to advocate for education professionals and to unite its members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.

NEA has affiliates in all states, including the Tennessee Education Association (TEA). NEA provides research, advocates, and takes positions on federal and state education issues. NEA educational activities include conferences, seminars, and training programs for members, as well as teaching tools and education-related publications.  

See also

  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET)
  • Tennessee Education Association (TEA)

Navigate Reconnect provides general guidance and assistance to adult learners in Tennessee who want to continue postsecondary education. Staff, called “navigators,” based in regions across the state, help adults who want to enroll or re-enroll in postsecondary education explore college options, answer questions about financial aid and the enrollment process, and provide additional supports to adult students once they are in college through graduation.

Navigate Reconnect assists adult students on and off campus. For example, navigators connect adult students with local resources such as childcare and affordable transportation options, make direct referrals to
campus contacts (e.g., financial aid, admissions, academic advising), and provide encouragement throughout the process. Navigators serve adult learners in four regions: west, middle, east, and northeast Tennessee.

Navigate Reconnect is part of the Tennessee Reconnect Grant Program, which provides eligible adult students with a last-dollar scholarship to complete a certificate or associate degree. Participants of the Tennessee
Reconnect Grant program are required to participate in a Reconnect Success Plan, which is an annual questionnaire that matches the student with resources and information through their college and regional Reconnect Navigator. All Tennessee adult college students are eligible for Navigate Reconnect services, even if they do not receive the Tennessee Reconnect Grant.

Navigate Reconnect replaced what were formerly known as Tennessee Reconnect Communities on July 1, 2019.

See also 

  • Tennessee Reconnect Grant
  • Drive to 55
  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC)

O

No terms

P

Physical education is a planned, sequential pre-K-12 curriculum that includes basic movement skills; physical fitness; rhythm and dance; cooperative games; team, dual, and individual sports; tumbling and gymnastics; and aquatics. Qualified professionals, such as physical education teachers and physical activity specialists, provide physical education and related fitness activities.

The State Board of Education (SBE) has adopted physical education standards for pre-K and grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The SBE does not require a minimum number of minutes or days per week that students should be in physical education class. According to SBE rules:

  •  The health education and physical education programs, provided annually, shall be based on state curriculum standards and shall be developmentally appropriate with instruction focusing on activities which will promote good health habits and enhance physical fitness.

Per SBE rule, students must achieve one high school level unit of Wellness and half-unit of Physical Education in order to graduate with a high school diploma.

In 2019, the General Assembly passed the Tom Cronan Physical Education Act. It requires that elementary students participate in a physical education class at least two times per full school week for no less than 60 minutes each, and provides that students with disabilities or medical reasons may receive accommodations or be excused.

Every school district must file an annual report with the commissioner of education confirming it has met the physical education requirements for the school year.

Physical activity includes walking, jumping rope, playing volleyball, or other forms of activity that promote fitness and well-being. As of 2017, Tennessee state law requires school districts to integrate:

  • a minimum of 130 minutes of physical activity per full school week for elementary school students; and
  • a minimum of 90 minutes of physical activity per full school week for middle and high school students.

The General Assembly clarified in state law that walking to and from class does not constitute physical activity for the purpose of this law.

Encouraging adequate physical activity and providing physical education for all students are central tenets of Tennessee’s Coordinated School Health Program. The program’s office, in the Tennessee Department of Education, publishes an annual report on physical activity and physical education in Tennessee’s public schools.

See also

  • academic standards
  • coordinated school health
  • curriculum  

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The Praxis Series are tests taken by individuals as part of the teacher licensing and certification process required by most states. ETS (Educational Testing Service), a nonprofit testing organization, develops and administers the Praxis tests. Each state and licensing organization determines its own certification and Praxis score requirements. Tennessee requirements for teacher certification include a Praxis test for admission to an approved educator preparation program. After program completion, Tennessee teachers must satisfactorily complete the Praxis Subject Assessment and separate subject tests for each area of endorsement sought.

See also

  • Educational Testing Service (ETS)
  • teacher licensing

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Tennessee's state-funded pre-kindergarten (pre-K) program serves approximately 18,500 three- and four-year-olds in all 95 counties for the 2019-20 school year. Parents, communities, and school districts can decide
locally whether they want and need high-quality pre-K classrooms. Enrollment in pre-K is prioritized for four-year-olds and students identified as economically disadvantaged and those students with disabilities, identified as English Learners, in state custody, or educationally at-risk due to circumstances of abuse or neglect. Communities, through the local school districts, have the ability to contract and partner with non-school providers (e.g., nonprofit, for-profit, and local Head Start programs). The Voluntary Pre-K for Tennessee Act of 2005 provided $25 million in excess lottery dollars to assist school districts in establishing pre-K programs through a competitive grant process. In 2018-2019, pre-K classrooms received approximately $83.6 million in funding allocated from the state’s education budget.

See also

  • economically disadvantaged students
  • English Learner students

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Under Tennessee's education accountability plan, developed under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), there are three pathways for identifying priority schools:

  1. Schools that rank in the bottom 5 percent based on state assessment results from 2015-16 and 2016-17, AND
  2. Schools that did not earn schoolwide TVAAS composite levels of 4 or 5 in both 2015-16 and 2016-17 OR 2016-17 and 2017-18 OR
  3. Schools with a graduation rate of less than 67 percent for the 2017-18 school year.

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) will evaluate priority schools annually through its school accountability framework and by monitoring school improvement plan implementation. The “priority exit” accountability designation recognizes priority schools that made progress in the areas for which they were identified.

TDOE released the first priority list under the new ESSA plan in summer 2018, following the 2017-18 school year. A new priority list is planned for release every three years, but schools are eligible for yearly exit.

The 2018 priority school list identified 82 schools from eight districts. In 2019, seven schools exited the priority list. No school was identified as a priority school using 2017-18 TN Ready data. The priority school calculation was based on a two-year success rate for high schools and a one-year success rate for K-8 schools that incorporate TCAP data from only the 2015-16 (high school only) and 2016-17 school years.

See also

  • accountability
  • Achievement School District (ASD)
  • Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
  • Targeted Support and Improvement Schools
  • TN Ready

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Private schools (sometimes referred to as independent schools) are schools operated by private organizations and typically do not receive state or local tax dollars for operation.

The State Board of Education (SBE) has five categories of non-public schools, a term that may be used interchangeably with private schools, but is technically broader because it includes church-related schools and home schools.

  • Category 1 schools are approved by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and include special purpose schools, many of which are residential, designed to provide short-term medical or transient care.
  • Category 2 schools are those approved by one of nine accrediting agencies or membership associations, each of which has been approved by SBE. These organizations are generally affiliated with religious denominations.
  • Category 3 schools are those approved by one of six regional accrediting agencies.
  • Category 4 schools are church-related schools that are members of one of eight associations. They are allowed to recognize satellite campuses, also known as umbrella programs, in which the campus is the student’s home and the student’s parents are the teachers. Some Category IV schools have no umbrella programs; others have no traditional school venue and only operate umbrella programs for home school students.
  • Category 5 schools are those “acknowledged for operation” by TDOE and are not required to be affiliated with any accrediting agency or membership association.

Category 1, 2, or 3 schools may choose to participate in Tennessee’s Education Savings Account program, which allows eligible students in Shelby and Davidson counties to use state and local BEP funds toward expenses, such as tuition or fees, at certain private schools.

See also

  • Education Savings Account (ESA)
  • home school
  • non-public school

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students’ reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years. PISA was first administered in 2000; the most recent assessment was given in the fall of 2018 and results were released in December 2019. PISA is designed to measure whether 15-year-olds are able to practically apply what they have learned both in and out of school in reading, mathematics, and science. PISA tests students in all three subjects but focuses more heavily on one subject area each time the test is given. For example, the 2015 PISA focused on science and the 2018 PISA focused on reading.

PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international organization of industrialized countries, and is conducted in the United States by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Because only a sample of students throughout the U.S. is assessed using PISA, results are provided in the aggregate and by subgroup for the U.S. and not by state. A state or U.S. territory can choose at its own expense to participate in PISA as an individual education system ‒ as Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico did in 2015 ‒ and in that case a sample is drawn that is representative of that state. No states chose to participate in the assessment in 2018.

See also

  • international assessments
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is an international assessment with the goal of assessing and comparing the basic skills and the broad range of competencies of adults around the world. PIAAC was conducted for the first time in 2011-12 in the U.S. and other countries with a sample of adults between the ages of 16 and 65. The first U.S. assessment was supplemented by a second round of national data collection in 2013-14 and a third round in 2017, which concluded cycle 1 of the assessment. The data for all three tests is available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Cycle 2 of PIAAC data collection will begin in 33 countries in 2021.

PIAAC focuses on cognitive and workplace skills needed for successful participation in 21st century society and the global economy. Specifically, PIAAC measures relationships between individuals' educational background, workplace experiences and skills, occupational attainment, use of information and communications technology, and cognitive skills in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.

PIAAC is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international organization of industrialized countries, and is conducted in the United States by NCES.

Because only a sample of students throughout the U.S. is assessed using PIAAC, results are provided in the aggregate and by subgroup for the U.S. and not by state.

See also

  • adult education
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international comparative study of the reading literacy of young students. PIRLS studies the reading achievement and reading behaviors and attitudes of 4th grade students in the U.S. and students in the equivalent of 4th grade in other participating countries. In the most recent PIRLS assessment in 2016, 61 education systems, including the U.S., participated, and results were released in December 2017. Since 2001, PIRLS data have been collected from a sample of U.S. Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 4th graders every five years, with the next administration scheduled for 2021. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) sponsors the administration of PIRLS in the U.S.

Typically, only a sample of students throughout the U.S. is assessed using PIRLS, and thus results are provided in the aggregate and by subgroup for the U.S. and not by state.

See also

  • international assessments
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Created in 2019, the Public Charter School Commission is the state-level, independent appellate authorizer of charter schools in Tennessee. Public Chapter 219 transferred the authority of the Tennessee State Board of Education (SBE) as the state’s appellate authorizer of public charter schools to the commission.

If a local board of education denies a charter school sponsor’s application, the sponsor may appeal the decision to the commission. The commission will conduct a de novo (new) review of the sponsor’s application. The commission will review the applications on appeal in accordance with SBE’s quality public charter school authorizing standards. The commission must either approve or deny the application no later than 75 days from its receipt of the notice of appeal. The commission’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.

If the commission upholds the local board of education’s denial of the charter school sponsor’s application, the public charter school will not open. If the commission overturns the local board of education’s denial of the application, the commission then becomes the authorizer of the charter school; however, the local board of education in which the charter school is geographically located and the charter school may agree in writing that the local board, rather than the commission, will be the authorizer for the charter school.

Until December 31, 2020, SBE will continue to act as the appellate authorizer and hear appeals of denied charter school sponsor applications. Appeals made on or after January 1, 2021, will be heard by the commission. The three charter schools authorized by SBE will be transferred to the Public Charter School Commission, effective July 1, 2021.

The commission is composed of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by a joint resolution of the General Assembly. The commission must have at least three members from each grand division and a majority of the commission members must reside within the geographic boundary of a school district in which at least one public charter school operates. Members do not receive compensation but will be reimbursed for travel expenses.

See also

  • charter schools
  • charter school authorizer
  • State Board of Education

A public school is the basic administrative unit of a state, county, city, or special school district, consisting of one or more grade groups, one or more teachers to give instruction, and one principal. Public schools are subject to the state statutes of Tennessee, and to rules, regulations, and minimum standards of the Tennessee State Board of Education.

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, there were 1,721 public schools in Tennessee in school year 2018-19.

See also

  • school district
  • State Board of Education

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No Terms

R

Remediation, also referred to as “learning support,” is an umbrella term used to describe various forms of academic assistance provided by postsecondary institutions to students who arrive on campus academically underprepared in core subjects like math, reading, and writing. The purpose of remediation is to help students become proficient in the academic skills they need to be successful in credit-bearing, college-level coursework. Remediation can take different forms, including additional courses, more face-to-face time with an instructor, peer tutoring, or computer-based independent study.

Higher education institutions in Tennessee primarily use ACT scores to determine whether a student needs additional academic assistance. In 2016, 76 percent of community college students, 50 percent of Locally Governed University students, and 27 percent of University of Tennessee students did not meet their institution’s ACT benchmarks for college-readiness in math, reading, and/or writing. Unless these students demonstrate proficiency through other avenues, they would be required to enroll in some form of remediation.

In 2015, the Tennessee Board of Regents required community colleges to begin using the corequisite model of learning support for academically underprepared students. Under the corequisite model, students who have not demonstrated subject-area proficiency are placed directly into a college-level course and required to enroll in a paired learning support course, which is designed to provide the skills necessary to be successful in the college-level course. Under the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, Tennessee’s 4-year universities cannot offer remedial or developmental courses and instead provide supplemental instruction to underprepared students. Supplemental instruction is a less intensive form of learning support in which students enroll in a college-level course and receive additional academic instruction.

See also

  • ACT
  • college and career readiness
  • community college
  • Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 (CCTA)
  • Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS)
  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  • University of Tennessee (UT)

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Revenue sources for school districts include those from federal, state, and local government funding. In fiscal year 2016-17, Tennessee’s districts overall received 48 percent of current revenues from state funds, primarily through the Basic Education Program (BEP). The state’s BEP funding comes from state sales taxes, and mixed drink and cigarette taxes. Districts received another 40 percent of their revenues from local sources, primarily from property taxes or payments in lieu of property taxes, local option sales taxes, and − for municipal districts − appropriations from city general funds. The remaining 12 percent of districts’ revenue came from federal funding, primarily from grants passed through the state for school breakfast and lunch programs, Title I programs that serve low-income students, and IDEA programs for students with disabilities.

See also

  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • maintenance of effort
  • municipal school districts
  • Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act

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Reverse transfer applies to students who have completed some credits toward an associate’s degree at a community college and then transferred to a participating four-year university. Eligible students can complete the remaining credits for their associate’s degree while enrolled at the four-year university. These credits are transferred back to the community college and the community college then awards the student an associate’s degree. Students are eligible for reverse transfer if they have completed more than 25 percent of the credits toward an associate degree while at community college.

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Reward schools are the top 5 percent of schools in the state for performance – as measured by overall student achievement levels – and the top 5 percent for year-over-year progress – as measured by schoolwide value-added data.

Under the state’s new federal education plan, developed under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Tennessee will continue to annually recognize, as it has since 2012, reward schools.

In 2018, 318 schools received reward status in 85 districts – about 20 percent of schools in the state.

See also

  • accountability
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
  • focus school
  • priority school

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S

The SAT is a college admissions test created by the College Board. The SAT assesses critical reading, writing, and math skills.

Tennessee requires and provides funding for students to take the ACT one time, although students may substitute the SAT in its place.

See also

  • ACT
  • College Board

School districts must demonstrate compliance with state laws and State Board of Education (SBOE) rules by submitting an annual compliance report to the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). Department staff use the compliance report to approve each school district annually. The Commissioner of Education grants approval to school districts that are either in compliance with state education laws and board rules, or have a plan for compliance. The compliance report form, which TDOE provides to districts, states that all districts are responsible for checking the status of compliance with all applicable laws and rules. The compliance report requires the signatures of the district director of schools and the school board chair attesting to the following statement: “I certify that, except for those items listed in the attached document which includes a compliance plan for each item, the LEA is in compliance with all Tennessee statutes and board rules.”

TDOE also uses data sources other than the compliance report to determine whether a district is in compliance.

The Commissioner of Education provides school districts that are not in compliance with laws and rules a written explanation and affords district officials the opportunity to respond. If corrective action is not made within the timeframe specified, the Commissioner is authorized to impose sanctions, which may include withholding part or all of state school funding to the district.

The department’s Internal Audit Division annually audits a sample of districts’ documentation to verify compliance with state laws and board rules.

TDOE is required to report annually to the SBOE regarding each school system’s compliance with the rules and regulations. The report includes the approval status of each local school system, deficiencies by school as identified during the approval process, an assessment of action needed to attain approval, local school system response, and sanctions imposed on systems that do not comply.

See also

  • school district (or LEA)
  • State Board of Education
  • Tennessee Department of Education

In general, a school board is a local board or authority responsible for the provision and maintenance of schools.

State law specifies the duties and powers of the local boards of education in Tennessee, members of which must be residents and voters of the county in which they are elected. Members of county legislative bodies or other county officials are not eligible to be elected to a local board of education.

Members of special school district boards of education are elected according to special or private act.

Except in Davidson and Shelby counties, members of municipal boards of education may be elected in the same manner as the members of the municipality’s governing body, either from districts or at large, or a combination of the two.

State law and State Board of Education rule require that every school board member receive seven hours of annual training.

The local board of education is required to hold regular meetings at least quarterly and to elect a member as chair annually.

Duties of a local board of education include:

  • employing and evaluating annually a director of schools
  • managing and controlling all public schools under its jurisdiction
  • approving tenure for teachers recommended by the director of schools
  • dismissing tenured employees (after providing hearings, if requested)
  • purchasing supplies, furniture, fixtures, and materials of every kind
  • suspending, dismissing, or alternatively placing students who are disruptive, threatening, or violent
  • establishing standards and policies governing student attendance
  • preparing and approving a budget, and submitting the budget to the appropriate legislative body

Tennessee school boards vary in size, between three and 12 members, with the most common size at seven members.

See also

  • school district
  • State Board of Education

Tennessee state law authorizes local boards of education to provide school transportation for public school students. State law also sets the length of time that school buses may remain in service.

State Board of Education rules govern the operation of school buses, and the State Board reviews and maintains school bus standards for the state.

The Tennessee Department of Safety oversees all school bus inspections and determines whether public school bus systems are in compliance with the safety requirements in state law. The Department of Safety also provides mandatory annual training for school bus drivers.

Buses are classified as Class A, B, C, or D. Class C and D buses are larger and may continue to be used until they have been in service for 18 years. At that time, the Commissioner of Safety may approve additional years of service, as long as the bus has not been operated more than 200,000 miles and meets all requirements for continued safe use and operation. Class C and D buses that are in use for more than 15 years must be inspected at least twice annually.

In 2016, the General Assembly passed legislation that extends the allowable number of years for newly manufactured (fiscal year 2016 and after) Class A buses to 15 – previously, the State Board rules limited their use to 12 years. Years of service for Class B buses remain unchanged at 15 years. The General Assembly also passed legislation requiring school districts that transport students to enter the names of their bus drivers into a statewide database maintained by the Tennessee Department of Safety. The Department of Safety will then notify the districts if any bus driver’s license has been suspended or revoked.

Some funding for pupil transportation is provided by the state’s funding formula, the Basic Education Program (BEP), as a non-classroom component. Funds are allocated to school districts based on the number of pupils transported from over one and a half miles away from their schools, miles transported, and density of pupils per route mile. 

The Tennessee Department of Education reports school bus statistics from school districts in the Annual Statistical Report. In school year 2017-18,

  • 9,183 school buses transported students
  • 55 people were treated for injuries related to school bus accidents
  • zero fatalities resulted from school bus accidents 

See also

  • Basic Education Program (BEP)

School choice is a reform movement that focuses on granting parents the right to choose which school their child attends. While parents have traditionally had the option to choose private schools over the public schools their students are zoned for, the school choice movement has primarily focused on choice within the public school sector.

In Tennessee, some school districts offer school options such as charter schools, magnet schools, virtual schools, or traditional public schools with a specialized focus on a subject area such as STEM or the arts. In selected districts where the Achievement School District operates, it offers parents additional school choices. Student eligibility and school admission criteria vary by school choice option. Districts may allow students to enroll in traditional public schools regardless of whether or not the student lives in the school’s geographical zone.

Non-public school choice options include home schools, and in some states, programs that allow parents to use public school funds for private school tuition (often called vouchers, opportunity scholarships, or individualized education accounts). The Tennessee General Assembly’s passage of the Individualized Education Act in 2015 created an Individualized Education Account (IEA) program for children with disabilities.

See also

  • Achievement School District (ASD)
  • charter school
  • home school
  • Individualized Education Account (IEA)
  • non-public schools
  • STEM
  • virtual school
  • vouchers

School climate refers to factors in the school environment that impact whether students feel:

  • safe – physically, socially, and emotionally,
  • academically challenged,
  • valued, and
  • connected to their school settings.

A positive school climate is based on norms, values, and patterns of behavior that support a safe and engaging school culture and learning environment. Research studies have recognized the importance of positive school climate in increasing student achievement and school performance, reducing achievement gaps, enhancing healthy development and life skills, and reducing problem behaviors and violence. Elements contributing to a positive school climate include clear rules, high expectations, fair enforcement of discipline measures, an orderly and welcoming school environment, parent and community involvement, and collaboration among administrators, faculty, and students.

The state’s Department of Education provides as a free resource to schools and districts a package of surveys known as the Tennessee School Climate Measurement System. The measurement system includes surveys on school engagement, safety, and environment for students in elementary, middle, and high school, and for teachers and parents. The system also includes consent forms and a memo of understanding needed to administer the surveys.

See also

  • school safety
  • Tennessee Educator Survey

School districts – also called school systems or local education agencies (LEAs) – are the organizing structure for operating and managing most public schools. Typically, districts are governed by an elected school board (board of education), and run by a director of schools hired by the board.

Local school districts in Tennessee are one of three types: county, municipal, or special. There are 141 local school districts in the state. Districts vary widely in the number of schools administered and the number of students served, from Shelby County Schools’ 210 schools and 104,902 students, to Richard City Special School District’s one school and 244 students. Tennessee’s local districts differ from those in many other states in that most are not financially independent. All but the special school districts are financially dependent on another government body, either a county or a city.

 In addition to local districts, the state operates stand-alone special schools, education programs, and districts, which each may be counted as a school district for various purposes. These state-run programs vary by funding sources and governing authorities. They include:

  • Achievement School District (ASD), which can be assigned the state’s lowest-performing public schools,
  • state appellate charter school authorizer, which is the State Board of Education until July 2021, when the charter schools it oversees will be transferred to the new Public Charter School Commission,
  • Department of Children’s Services’ education programs for children placed under its authority, and
  • five state special schools: Tennessee School for the Blind, Tennessee School for the Deaf–Knoxville, Tennessee School for the Deaf–Nashville, West Tennessee School for the Deaf (Jackson), and Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute.

See also

  • Achievement School District (ASD)
  • county school district
  • Department of Children’s Services education services
  • municipal school district
  • Public Charter School Commission
  • public school
  • school board
  • special school district
  • state special schools in Tennessee

In 2016, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law requiring an A-F grading system for all schools, with a grade for each school to be included on the annual State Report Card. Due to a cancellation of state assessments in spring 2020,  the Tennessee Department of Education will assign every school an overall letter grade based on Tennessee’s accountability framework developed under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) following the culmination of the 2020-21 school year.

See also

  • accountability
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)

Under the previous federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), School Improvement Grants (SIGs) provided funding to schools with poor academic performance. The SIG program was not continued in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which supersedes NCLB and states’ waivers under NCLB. SIGs are replaced by a set-aside under Title I for school improvement activities, specifically targeting schools that are the equivalent of what are currently called priority and focus schools. (Under ESSA, these schools are referred to as “comprehensive support and improvement schools” and “targeted support and improvement schools.”)

See also

  • accountability
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
  • focus school
  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)
  • No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver
  • priority school
  • Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act

School safety refers to policies and programs to ensure the safety of students and school personnel. In Tennessee, the Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Act of 2007 established state-level comprehensive planning and accountability requirements to ensure that school districts address school safety and implement violence prevention efforts. The SAVE Act includes specific requirements for emergency response plans, violence prevention, and data collection to assess school safety. The act also incorporates other state requirements toward addressing school violence such as written codes of conduct and discipline, prohibition of guns and drugs, character education, and conflict resolution programs.

See also

  • school climate

In place statewide since 2013, the SAILS program is a form of learning support for math that takes place during the senior year of high school. SAILS is offered to students who score below 19 on the math subsection of the ACT. Students who successfully complete the SAILS program are considered proficient in math and can enroll directly into a credit-bearing math course with no learning support
at any of the state’s 13 community colleges and some of the four-year universities.

See also

  • ACT
  • remediation
  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)

Service learning is a form of experiential learning through which students develop knowledge and critical thinking skills while performing community service activities. Models for integrating service learning into a course of study include preparation and background understanding of the issue, the service action itself, and meaningful reflection on the experience.

Tennessee teachers who wish to integrate service learning teaching methodology in their classes must complete a one day training course offered by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). A set of five curriculum standards guide teachers through the process of developing a service learning approach.

See also

  • community school
  • work-based learning

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), created in 1948, is a regional compact for education policy comprising 16 states, including Tennessee. SREB advises states on what works in policy and practice, garners consensus on education initiatives among member states, and can work directly with public schools and educators for educational improvement. SREB provides resources for policymakers, educators, and parents on a wide range of education policy areas.

The Board includes the governor and four gubernatorial appointees, including a state legislator and an educator, from each member state. SREB is funded through appropriations from member states, grants and contracts, and other support.

See also

  • Education Commission of the States (ECS)

The term “special education” generally refers to programs designed to serve children with mental and physical disabilities. Tennessee policy requires school districts to provide special education services sufficient to meet the needs and maximize the capabilities of children with disabilities.

Two principal federal laws protect the educational rights of children with disabilities: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Local school districts receive funding to provide special education services through federal IDEA formula grants and through the Basic Education Program (BEP) funding formula. In school year 2018-19, approximately 129,399 Tennessee students with disabilities received special education services, or about 13 percent of all enrolled students.

See also

  • Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
  • Individualized Education Account (IEA)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS)

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) is a Tennessee nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy and research institution, founded in 2008 by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist. SCORE supports high academic standards, development of excellent district leaders, school leaders, and classroom teachers, the use of data to improve student learning, and preparing students for college and the workforce. SCORE also advocates for public policy decisions at state and local levels.

SCORE is governed by a 16-member board of directors comprising Tennessee philanthropic and business leaders. The organization’s work, including an annual report on the state of education in Tennessee, is guided by a 37-member steering committee comprised of education stakeholders across the state.

It was announced in the summer of 2019 that Complete Tennessee, a nonprofit education advocacy organization that focused on increasing postsecondary access and completion in Tennessee, would merge with SCORE in 2019 and continue its work under the name of the collaborative. Management asserts that the move will allow SCORE to align its efforts in K-12 with postsecondary education.

The State Board of Education (SBE) is the governing and policy-making body for the Tennessee system of public elementary and secondary education. SBE is to develop and maintain a master plan for K-12 public education and sets rules and policies concerning all facets of education, including teacher preparation, licensing, and evaluation; public school and district operations; student attendance, grading and graduation requirements; state academic standards; Individualized Education Accounts (IEAs) and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs); and the private school approval process. SBE also staffs the Basic Education Program (BEP) Review Committee. SBE coordinates its efforts with the Tennessee Department of Education, which implements laws established by the General Assembly and policies adopted by the board.

Since 2014, SBE has had authority to authorize charter schools on appeal; it was the authorizer for three schools in school year 2019-20. By July 1, 2021, charter schools authorized by SBE will be transferred to the Public Charter School Commission. SBE will be responsible for ensuring that other charter authorizers in the state meet quality standards.

SBE is composed of nine appointed members – one from each of Tennessee’s nine congressional districts – and one high school student member. In addition, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission is an ex officio, nonvoting member of SBE. The Governor makes all appointments of members, subject to confirmation by the state Senate and House of Representatives. Board members serve a five-year term; the student member serves a one-year term.

See also

  • BEP Review Committee
  • charter school authorizer
  • Public Charter School Commission
  • Tennessee Department of Education

There are five state special schools in Tennessee:

  • Tennessee School for the Blind, located in Nashville, provides residential and educational programs for students, grades pre-K through 12, with multiple disabilities (primarily visually impaired)
  • Tennessee School for the Deaf–Nashville, at a shared campus with Tennessee School for the Blind, provides educational programs for students, grades pre-K through 2, with multiple disabilities (primarily hearing impaired)
  • Tennessee School for the Deaf–Knoxville, provides residential and educational programs for students, grades pre-K through 12, with multiple disabilities (primarily hearing impaired)
  • West Tennessee School for the Deaf, located in Jackson, provides educational programs for students, ages two through 13, with multiple disabilities (primarily hearing impaired)
  • Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute, located in Jamestown, a public school operated by the state. The York Institute was founded as a private agricultural school in 1926 by World War I hero and Tennessee native Alvin C. York. In 1937, the school was transferred to the state of Tennessee.

Programs offered at the schools for the blind and deaf include academic instruction, self-care skills, counseling, pre-vocational training, child health and safety, independent living skills, consultation services to local school districts, and diagnosis and identification of learning problems.

State law does not designate the special schools as part of any school district, instead giving the State Board of Education (SBE) the responsibility to control the state’s four special schools. The state special schools are almost entirely state-funded. SBE approves the budgets for the schools before they are submitted to the Governor and the Department of Finance and Administration for approval and transmission to the General Assembly.

Information about the state special schools appears on the annual State Report Card.

Created in 2014 to replace the former State Textbook Commission, the State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission is responsible for recommending a list of textbooks and instructional materials for approval by the State Board of Education for use in Tennessee’s public schools. The commission publishes the list of board-approved textbooks and materials (which also includes electronic textbooks, computer software, and other electronic materials) that may be adopted by local boards of education for use in their districts. The commission can also develop rules related to the physical standards for durability of textbooks and materials, conditions under which it contracts with publishers, and the distribution of all textbooks and materials under contract.

The commission may establish advisory panels of teachers and subject experts to assist in reviews and advise the commission. Reviews are to determine whether the textbooks and other materials conform to state academic standards, are free of substantive factual or grammatical errors, and reflect the statutory values related to the founding of the state and the nation, as well as the associated foundational documents. The commission and advisory panels are required to review public comments on the textbooks and materials under consideration for adoption. The Tennessee Department of Education provides training to new commission members and to advisory panel members on their duties.

The commission consists of 10 members: the Speakers of the House and Senate of the General Assembly and the Governor each appoint three members, one from each grand division of the state, and the Commissioner of Education or the commissioner’s designee serves as a voting member and ex officio secretary of the commission. Of the appointed members, two are to be directors of schools; one is to be a principal; three are to be teachers or instructional supervisors, each in one of the grade spans K-3, 4-8, and 9-12; and the final three are to be citizens not employed in the public education field.

See also:

  • State Board of Education
  • Tennessee Department of Education

STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is an initiative designed to improve students’ skills and knowledge in these disciplines. STEM initiatives typically include more in-depth coverage of math and science topics and instruction in how to integrate and apply multidisciplinary knowledge to solve problems. STEM education is designed to develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, communication, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.

Expanding STEM education is a priority nationally and in Tennessee. Tennessee used federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funding to create the STEM Innovation Network, a public-private collaboration to promote and expand the teaching and learning of STEM in K-12 public schools. There are seven regional STEM innovation hubs in Tennessee, which work to increase STEM programming through partnerships of school districts, postsecondary institutions, businesses, and community organizations. Since 2018, 48 schools have earned STEM designations, which recognize schools’ implementation of STEM learning opportunities.

 See also

Race to the Top (RTTT)

The STEP UP Scholarship is a lottery-funded scholarship for students with intellectual disabilities attending eligible postsecondary programs at select Tennessee institutions. Eligible programs are those that have received Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program designation from the U.S. Department of Education. Five universities currently offer such programs: Lipscomb University, Union University, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University.

The award amount is set by the General Assembly in the general appropriations act. Since fall 2015, the award amount is $1,750 per semester for freshmen and sophomores and $2,250 for juniors and seniors. To continue receiving the STEP UP scholarship, a student must maintain continuous enrollment and make satisfactory academic progress.

See also

  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)

Student Industry Certifications (SICs) are industry-recognized occupational credentials developed by industry groups or professional associations, which may be completed in both secondary and postsecondary career
and technical education courses (CTE) in Tennessee. SICs may be used in particular industries as requirements or considerations for career entry and job placement, and can be accepted for credit hours in some fields by
postsecondary institutions, including Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs).

Examples of SICs include First Responder, Certified Nursing Assistant, Certified EKG Technician, Certified Pharmacy Technician, and ServSafe (food preparation and serving safety). To receive certification, students must pass an exam. The Tennessee Department of Education encourages students to enroll in CTE programs aligned with corresponding certifications, but course enrollment is not mandatory to sit for an exam. The cost of SIC exams vary based on the industry area and type of exam.

See also

  • Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT)

Tennessee state law and State Board of Education rules define suspension as

  • dismissed from attendance at school for any reason for not more than ten (10) consecutive days. The student on suspension shall be included in ADM (average daily membership and will continue to be counted for funding purposes. Multiple suspensions shall not run consecutively nor shall multiple suspensions be applied to avoid expulsion from school.

Students may also receive in-school suspension, which state law describes as suspension of a student from attendance at a specific class, classes, or school-sponsored activity without suspending the student from attendance at school. Students given in-school suspension are required to complete their academic requirements.

See also

  • expulsion
  • zero tolerance

T

Under Tennessee's education accountability plan, developed under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), there are two types of focus schools: Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI).  

TSI schools are those that fall in the bottom 5 percent for their weighted overall accountability score for any given student subgroup (i.e., Black/Hispanic/Native American, Economically Disadvantaged, English Learners, or Students with Disabilities) or any given racial or ethnic group.

Additional Targeted Support and Improvement schools are a new federal designation for schools that need particular focus on their student group performance. Schools designated as ATSI in 2018 are the schools with the lowest performance across student groups using 2017-18 data. These schools will be supported by the department and are eligible for additional funding.

There are two paths through which a school could be designated as ATSI:

  • earns overall school accountability score of 1.0 or less on the state’s new accountability framework AND ranks in bottom 5 percent for at least one accountability student group (i.e., black, Hispanic, and Native American students; economically disadvantaged students; English learners; and students with disabilities), or
  • ranks in the bottom 5 percent for two or more student groups.

See also

  • accountability
  • Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
  • high school graduation rates
  • priority school

In Tennessee, state law requires that teacher evaluations be used by school and district officials to inform decisions such as hiring, promotion, tenure, dismissal, and compensation. Teacher evaluations are required annually and consist of three main components: classroom observations and other qualitative measures, student achievement (such as TCAP scores, graduation rates, and ACT scores), and student growth (TVAAS scores for individual teachers or schools, or approved alternative growth measures). Districts may use either the state’s teacher evaluation model – the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM) – or one of four alternative models (Project Coach, TIGER, TEM, or, for pre-K only, CLASS).  Districts may modify TEAM with State Board of Education approval. All models use the same student achievement and growth measures with the same weighting. The models differ primarily in how they evaluate classroom instruction and other qualitative components.

See also

  • ACT
  • high school graduation rates
  • Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP)
  • Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)

The purpose of teacher licensure (also called certification) is to ensure that individuals who serve in Tennessee classrooms and schools meet the state’s minimum standards. The Tennessee State Board of Education (SBE) establishes the standards educators must meet to earn and renew a teaching license, and to advance from one license level to another.

A new teacher licensing policy took effect September 1, 2015, affecting teachers, school services personnel, and occupational teachers. (Current licenses will remain valid until their expiration dates.) Under the new licensing policy, teachers beginning their careers must obtain a Practitioner License. After completion of an approved educator preparation program, qualifying scores on practitioner assessments, three years of experience, and either a recommendation from the Director of Schools or documentation of 30 professional development points, teachers are eligible to advance to a Professional License valid for six years. If the conditions for advancement are not met, an educator may apply to renew the Practitioner License for an additional three-year period. If a teacher does not earn a Professional License after six years, or does not meet licensure expectations, the license will become inactive and he or she will be unable to teach. In most cases, educators must renew a license during the final year of its validity period.

See also

  • teacher preparation
  • teacher professional development

Teacher preparation refers to an aspiring teacher’s training, which has traditionally consisted of college-level coursework and student teaching experiences offered through postsecondary institutions. As of 2018, 36 traditional teacher preparation programs exist in Tennessee. There are also four alternative teacher preparation programs not managed by an institution of higher education. These programs include Teach for America and the Memphis Teacher Residency, which recruit teacher candidates who already hold bachelor’s degrees and provide them with specialized coursework to prepare them to teach in high-poverty schools.

All providers of teacher preparation programs that lead to licensure must be approved by the State Board of Education, and must ensure that licensure programs meet all applicable literacy and specialty area standards.

The Educator Preparation Report Card is published annually by the State Board of Education. The report card, which is required by law, provides an overall picture of teacher preparation programs in the state and snapshots of individual programs. Since 2016, the TDOE Primary Partnership Initiative has required districts and EPPs to partner in the training of new teachers in an effort to improve communication and collaboration.

See also

  • teacher licensing
  • teacher professional development

Teacher professional development refers to activities designed to expand the content knowledge and instructional skills of educators. The Tennessee State Board of Education requires teachers to complete a certain amount of professional development to advance beyond their initial licensure status and, once the teacher has advanced beyond initial status, to renew their license. Teachers earn professional development points for completing professional development activities, such as training, coursework, or achievement of National Board Certification. To advance from the initial Practitioner License to a Professional License, 30 points are required, and renewing a Professional License requires 60 points. Practitioner Licenses are valid for three years and may be renewed one time for an additional three-year period if a teacher has not met the criteria for advancement to a Professional License. Professional Licenses are valid for six years.

State law requires that five days out of the 200-day mandatory minimum for a school year are to be allocated to in-service education (teacher professional development).

In Tennessee, teacher professional development is primarily provided for and funded at the local level.

See also

  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
  • teacher licensing
  • teacher preparation

Tenure is a continuing employment status for teachers. A tenured teacher cannot be fired without just cause and due process, and tenured teachers’ employment contracts are automatically renewed until they resign, retire, are dismissed for cause (fired), or are returned to probationary status (a status used to determine if an employee is a right fit for the job).

In Tennessee, teachers are first eligible for tenure following completion of a five-year probationary period if they have received an evaluation score of 4 or 5 in the last two years of the period. Teachers may also become eligible for tenure by receiving an evaluation score of 4 or 5 for any two consecutive years following completion of the probationary period.

A teacher who fails to receive an evaluation score of 4 or 5 for two consecutive years but does not receive an evaluation score lower than 3 can remain in probationary status indefinitely.

Tenured teachers who receive an evaluation score of less than 3 for two consecutive years return to probationary status and must receive an evaluation score of 4 or 5 for two consecutive years to regain tenure eligibility.

A teacher who becomes eligible for tenure, whether initial status or regaining, must be recommended for tenure by the director of schools to the local school board. School boards are not bound to accept a director of school’s tenure recommendations. If the school board does not grant tenure, the teacher can no longer continue employment in the district.

See also

  • school board
  • teacher evaluation
  • Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)

The TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning) Survey is an anonymous survey of educators administered by the New Teacher Center (NTC), a national nonprofit with a focus on new teacher effectiveness. Since 2008, NTC has surveyed over one million educators across 20 states, including Tennessee. NTC last surveyed Tennessee teachers in 2013.

The survey results provide educators with tools and direct support to improve schools, and also provide information to state policymakers for use in reforming teaching policies and practices. The survey questions focus on teaching conditions such as instructional practices and support, community engagement and support, managing student conduct, and facilities and resources, among others. For example, in the 2013 Tennessee survey, over 70 percent of teachers responded positively that teachers can focus on educating students with minimal interruptions in school, and 80 percent or more responded positively about the appropriateness of their school facilities and resources.

See also 

  • Tennessee Educator Survey

The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) was established as the state’s standardized testing program in 1988. It includes:

  • TN Ready assessments in math, English language arts, social studies, and science, for students in grades 3-8 and for high school students enrolled in classes with End of Course assessments,
  • TCAP Alternative (TCAP-Alt) and MSAA assessments for students with special needs, and
  • the optional grade 2 assessment for districts that choose to participate.

The results of these assessments are reported to parents, teachers, and administrators, and are used for accountability purposes. TCAP results can be found on the Tennessee Department of Education’s TCAP Results page and on the annual State Report Card, which is released each fall.

Public Chapter 652 (2020) removes the requirement for districts to administer TN Ready assessments (including End of Course exams), as well as English learner assessments, and alternate TCAP assessments due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Districts may choose to administer tests at their own discretion, but districts will not have testing windows or state-level supervision or administration. Student performance and student growth data from voluntarily administered TCAP tests will not have a negative impact on measures such as school grades or teacher evaluations.

See also

  • End of Course (EOC) exams
  • standardized test
  • TN Ready

Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs), previously known as Tennessee Technology Centers, are overseen by the Tennessee Board of Regents. There are 27 TCATs located within the state. TCATs provide students with technical skills and professional training in areas such as nursing, automotive technology, and industrial maintenance.

Each TCAT is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. TCATs use a competency-based curriculum, which allows students to work at their own pace in mastering skills. In addition, for some programs, industry-developed standards and assessments are used to measure student learning. The completion of a program of study at a TCAT culminates in a diploma or certificate.

The Tennessee Promise program, Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant, and TCAT Reconnect Grant offer financial aid opportunities for students enrolled in TCATs.

See also

  • career and technical education (CTE)
  • competency-based learning
  • TCAT Reconnect Grant
  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  • Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant

The TCAT Reconnect Grant was established in 2014 as the Wilder-Naifeh Reconnect Grant, part of the Tennessee Promise legislation. This lottery-funded grant provides financially independent students (determined by tax-filing status) the opportunity to attend one of the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) free of costs associated with tuition and mandatory fees.

One of the state’s Drive to 55 initiatives, the TCAT Reconnect Grant covers the cost of tuition and mandatory fees, less all other gift aid, meaning that a student would first use any other financial assistance, such as Pell Grants or Tennessee Student Assistance Awards, before applying the grant to remaining tuition and fees. An eligible student must meet the following stipulations: be admitted to the program of study as a full-time student, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), be a financially independent student, and be eligible under Tennessee state law (e.g., a Tennessee resident, not in default on a federal student loan, among others). A grant recipient must maintain continuous enrollment and is eligible to receive the grant for all coursework required for the program of study.

See also

  • Community College Reconnect Grant
  • Drive to 55
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT)
  • Tennessee Promise

Begun in fall 2018, the Tennessee Middle College Scholarship provides lottery funding to students at middle college high schools who are also enrolled in a public two-year postsecondary institution. The scholarship awards eligible students $1,000 each semester of full-time attendance at the postsecondary institution.

To receive this scholarship, a middle college student must submit an application under Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation guidelines, be classified as an in-state student by the postsecondary institution, have a minimum 3.0 grade point average at the end of the sophomore year of high school, and be enrolled in a public two-year postsecondary institution that offers middle college in the student’s junior year of high school.

If students do not receive the scholarship in the fall semester of their junior year, they are not eligible for the scholarship in any future semesters. Students who receive the Tennessee Middle College Scholarship are not eligible to receive the dual enrollment grant.

See also

  • dual enrollment
  • middle college high school
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)
  • Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC)

Tennessee Promise is a scholarship and mentoring program that provides a last-dollar scholarship for recent high school graduates seeking an associate degree, technical diploma, or certificate at a community college, Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), or other eligible institution. The maximum scholarship amount is the average cost of tuition and mandatory fees at a Tennessee public community college (about $4,400 in 2018-19). The scholarship for each student will vary based on their remaining cost of tuition and mandatory fees after other gift aid is applied. Tennessee Promise does not cover books, supplies, or non-mandatory fees. Students who graduated from high school in 2015 were the first class eligible for the program.

Promise applicants are paired with a mentor whose purpose is to assist students with the college application and financial aid process during the senior year of high school and the summer between graduation and enrollment in college. There are two mentoring organizations associated with the Tennessee Promise: TN Achieves and the Ayers Foundation.

To be eligible to apply for Tennessee Promise, students must hold U.S. citizenship and live in Tennessee for at least 12 months prior to enrollment in a postsecondary institution.

The Promise application process takes place during the senior year of high school and in the summer after high school graduation. To become a Tennessee Promise student, applicants must:

  • file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • attend a mentor meeting
  • complete eight hours of community service
  • enroll in an eligible institution and
  • complete FAFSA verification (if selected)

To remain in the program, Promise students must maintain continuous full time enrollment unless granted a leave of absence, earn a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA, complete eight hours of community service each semester, and refile the FAFSA annually. Promise students may remain in the program until they earn an associate degree or diploma for up to five semesters or eight trimesters.

TCA 49-7-708(f) requires the Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) to review, study, and determine the effectiveness of Tennessee Promise on an ongoing basis.

See also

  • community college
  • Drive to 55
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • last-dollar scholarship
  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT)
  • tuition and mandatory fees

The Tennessee Reconnect Grant, passed by the General Assembly in 2017, revised the previously established Community College Reconnect Grant. Starting in fall 2018, the grant provides eligible adults with a last-dollar scholarship, meaning that a student would use the federal Pell grant and other financial aid before Tennessee Reconnect funds are applied to the tuition and mandatory fee expenses. The grant can be used toward a certificate or associate degree at a community college or an eligible four-year public or private postsecondary institution that offers a certificate or associate degree program, though the scholarship amount cannot exceed the average cost of tuition and fees at a community college.

Grant eligibility is limited to individuals who:

  • have not previously earned an associate or baccalaureate degree,
  • are independent as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),
  • have been a Tennessee resident for at least 12 months,
  • participate in a Reconnect Success Plan (an annual questionnaire that matches the student with resources and information through their college and regional Reconnect Navigator), and
  • meet other criteria specified in state law.

Students receiving the grant are required to enroll in at least 6 credit hours each fall and spring semester, maintain a 2.0 grade point average, maintain continuous enrollment (unless granted a leave of absence), reapply for the grant and refile the FAFSA annually, and continue participation in a Reconnect Success Plan. A student may continue receiving the grant for up to five years, or until they earn an associate degree, complete the total number of credits necessary to complete an associate degree, or fail to maintain continuous enrollment or minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. If a student ceases to be eligible for the grant at any time, he or she is unable to regain the grant.

TCA 49-4-944 (k) requires the Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) to review and study the Tennessee Reconnect Grant program on an ongoing basis to determine the effectiveness of the program.

See also

  • community college
  • Drive to 55
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Navigate Reconnect
  • TCAT Reconnect Grant

The Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA) is a financial assistance program administered by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) for undergraduates with financial need. TSAA awards are granted to students who are residents of Tennessee, are enrolled or intend to enroll in an eligible institution, have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and are otherwise eligible under state law.

Awards are based on the financial need of the student and cannot exceed the cost of tuition and mandatory fees charged by the institution. Awards are renewable, and the length of time for renewal varies based on the postsecondary credential sought (i.e., four academic years for a baccalaureate degree or six months for a certificate). Awards can be revoked if students do not meet minimum academic achievement levels or are expelled or suspended.

In 2017-18, 62,300 students received TSAA awards totaling approximately $104.6 million; the average award amount was $1,678 per student. The TSAA is funded through General Assembly appropriations ($90.7 million for 2017-18), lottery, and program reserve funds. Prior recipients who are eligible for renewal are the first to receive funds, followed by eligible applicants with the greatest financial need who complete their FAFSA by February 1, until TSAA funds are exhausted.

See also

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC)

The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, known as TVAAS, is a statistical method based on standardized test data that is used to measure the influence of a district, school, or teacher on the academic progress (growth rates) of individual students or groups of students from year to year. The concept behind TVAAS is that schools should add value every school year for each student, regardless of whether the student begins the year above, at, or below grade level. The use of value-added assessment was enacted in Tennessee law in 1992 as part of the Education Improvement Act. State law requires the use of TVAAS annual estimates of teacher, school, or school district effects on student progress in teacher evaluations and the state’s education accountability system for schools and districts.

See also

  • accountability
  • standardized test
  • teacher evaluation
  • Tennessee Education Improvement Act (EIA)

TN Ready is the set of Tennessee’s general education assessments in math, English language arts, social studies, and science for students in grades 3 through 8, and in high school. Part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP), TN Ready is aligned to the state’s academic standards and includes essay and short answer questions, as well as multi-step math problems, which are considered better measures of complex skills than multiple choice questions alone.

Schools had planned to administer TN Ready assessments online during the 2015-16 school year, unless they had opted for the paper alternative. Due to technical and logistical issues, TN Ready was cancelled for grades 3-8, but testing at high schools continued as scheduled. After switching to a new test vendor, the state administered the assessments in 2016-17, using primarily the paper format.

In 2017-18, over half of the assessed students took the paper version of TN Ready. The students that took the online version in 2017-18 were subject to several technical issues, prompting the General Assembly to pass Public Chapter 475 in 2019 requiring the 2019-20 TN Ready tests to be administered in paper format.

The 2018-19 school year marked the first online administration of TN Ready without significant issues. The state switched to a new vendor for the 2019-20 school year. Due to the disruption of the normal scholastic schedule by the COVID-19 outbreak, however, lawmakers removed the requirement for TN Ready assessments in 2019-20.

See also

  • accountability
  • assessment
  • standardized test
  • Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP)

tnAchieves is a nonprofit corporation that is the partnering organization to the Tennessee Promise scholarship in 90 of the 95 counties in Tennessee. As a partnering organization, tnAchieves is responsible for recruiting and training volunteer mentors, pairing Tennessee Promise applicants with mentors, and tracking students’ community service hours. In the 2018-2019 academic year, tnAchieves recruited and trained nearly 7,800 volunteers to serve as mentors to over 60,000 Tennessee Promise applicants as they transitioned from high school to college.

In 2008, tnAchieves was established under the name Knox Achieves and launched a last-dollar community and technical college scholarship program in Knox County that paired students with volunteer mentors and required its students to complete at least eight hours of community service each semester. Between 2008 and 2014, the Knox Achieves program became available to students in other counties across Tennessee and the organization was renamed tnAchieves. Tennessee Promise was created in 2014 based on the Knox Achieves program and tnAchieves became a Tennessee Promise partnering organization. In 2019, TnAchieves launched a new initiative called Knox Promise, which provides Tennessee Promise students from Knox County with additional financial and coaching supports aimed at helping students complete college degrees.

The federal Higher Education Act, originally passed in 1965, established financial assistance programs for students in postsecondary institutions, among other provisions. The act is reauthorized by Congress periodically, most recently in 2008. Title IV governs a variety of federal financial aid programs including:

  • grants – such as Pell grants, GEAR UP, Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarships, and Teach grants;
  • loans and loan forgiveness programs – including Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (also known as Stafford loans) and Direct Plus Loan programs; and
  • the federal work-study program – funding for part-time work for low-income students at participating institutions.

The Pell Grant program is the largest federal student assistance program, providing $28.4 billion in grants to seven million eligible low-income students nationwide in the 2018-19 academic year. In that year, approximately 126,000 Tennesseans received $510.4 million from the federal Pell Grant. Tennessee Promise and Reconnect, last-dollar scholarship programs for students enrolling in community or technical college, depends on students first accessing available funds from other sources, such as the Pell Grant program.

See also

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Tennessee Promise
  • Tennessee Reconnect Grant
  • TCAT Reconnect

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) provides data on the mathematics and science achievement of U.S. students compared to that of students in other countries. TIMSS data have been collected every four years from a sample of students in grades 4 and 8 since 1995, generally. TIMSS data was most recently collected in 2019, and included students in grades 4 and 8. With the 2019 debut of eTIMSS, an electronic version of TIMSS, more than half the countries administered the test via computer.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) sponsors the administration of TIMSS in the U.S.

Because TIMSS assesses only a sample of students throughout the U.S., results are provided in the aggregate and by subgroup for the nation and not by state. States can participate at their own expense or, if state participation is tied to a special study conducted by NCES or its partners, the federal government may pay for some or all of the costs.

See also

  • international assessments
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Tennessee law defines truancy as missing five or more unexcused days of school. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, school districts are required to adopt a progressive truancy intervention plan to address truancy at the school level before a truancy violation is referred to juvenile court. This three-tiered plan must be initiated at or before a student’s accumulation of five unexcused absences. Tier one must include a meeting with the student, parents or legal guardians, and school officials to develop an attendance contract outlining expectations, consequences, and any necessary interventions based on the student’s individual needs. If the attendance contract is violated, tier two is implemented, which includes an individual assessment by a school employee to determine the reasons a student has been absent. The student may be referred to counseling, community-based services, or other in-school or out-of-school services to address the attendance problems. If the student continues to accumulate unexcused absences, the intervention plan moves to tier three, which may consist of school-based community services, restorative justice programs, or teen court. The student’s truancy is referred to juvenile court if these interventions are not successful in addressing the student’s attendance.

See also

  • chronic absenteeism

Tuition and mandatory fees are required dollar amounts that are charged to students for enrollment or attendance at a postsecondary institution. Tennessee Promise, TCAT Reconnect, and Tennessee Reconnect are last-dollar scholarships available to eligible residents. These scholarships pay up to the cost of tuition and mandatory fees after other sources of gift aid (i.e., Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarships, Tennessee Student Assistance Award, Pell grant) have been applied.

Tennessee Promise and Reconnect students are financially responsible to pay for other costs associated with enrollment in a specific course or program that are not charged to all students, such as books, tools, supplies, or specific course fees (e.g., natural science lab, allied health, or online course fees).

See also:

  • last-dollar scholarship
  • TCAT Reconnect
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarships (TELS)
  • Tennessee Promise
  • Tennessee Reconnect Grant
  • Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA)

U

Uniform grading refers to the Tennessee policy to standardize the grading scale and course weighting used by school districts to calculate high school grade point averages, which are used to determine eligibility for Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarships. 

In addition, as of July 1, 2016, all school districts using separate grading systems based on quality points for purposes other than lottery scholarships are required to award quality points for honors and other advanced courses in those separate grading systems uniformly.

Quality points shall be added as follows:

1.      One-half quality point shall be added to the numerical quality point value corresponding to the letter grade received for the course in an honors course;

2.      One quality point shall be added to the numerical quality point value corresponding to the letter grade received in early postsecondary courses recognized by the State Board of Education and the Department of Education.

Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, the State Board of Education cannot modify the uniform grading system more frequently than once every two years.

See also

  • Advanced Placement (AP) program
  • dual credit and dual enrollment
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship (TELS)

The University of Tennessee (UT) system was created in 1968, uniting the Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin, and Memphis campuses in the system’s overall mission of teaching, research, and public service. UT is made up of four campuses and three institutes (the Institute of Agriculture, the Institute for Public Service, and the Space Institute).

UT is governed by a Board of Trustees, which consists of 12 members: 10 members appointed by the Governor, the Commissioner of Agriculture (ex officio), and one nonvoting student member appointed by the board.

See also

  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC)

V

In general, virtual school refers to a school that is not housed primarily in a “brick and mortar” building, and which conducts student services and courses mainly through internet technology.

In 2011, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Virtual Public Schools Act. The act describes virtual schools as public schools that use technology to deliver a significant portion of instruction to students via the internet in a virtual or remote setting. As of 2019, 10 school districts have established virtual schools: Bradley County, Bristol City, Hamilton County, Metro Nashville, Robertson County, Shelby County, Sumner County, Union County, Washington County, and Wilson County.

Under the law, virtual schools must comply with the same laws as traditional public schools on curriculum standards, class size, length of the school day and school year, regular student assessments, and teacher qualifications. School districts may manage their own virtual schools or may contract for services with nonprofit and for-profit entities.

Any student who is eligible for enrollment in a Tennessee public school may enroll in a virtual school, although districts have the option of charging tuition to a student who does not currently live within district borders. Students have the option of enrolling full-time or part-time. Full-time students take all of their courses online through the virtual school; part-time students take one or more courses online while enrolled in another public school.

Students with special needs, including disabilities and limited English proficiency, may enroll and participate in a  virtual school. Virtual schools are required to provide the services included in each special education student’s Individualized Education Program. Virtual schools are required to ensure their students have access to instructional materials and technology, such as a computer, printer, and internet connection that may be necessary to participate in the program.

Virtual schools in Tennessee are funded the same way as traditional public schools. School districts can use Basic Education Program (BEP) funds from both local and state sources to implement and operate their virtual education programs. Districts are also encouraged to apply for grants and accept donations to help fund their virtual education programs.

Virtual schools are included in the annual State Report Card published by the Tennessee Department of Education. The department also produces an annual report on all virtual schools established by school districts.

See also

  • Basic Education Program (BEP)
  • distance education        
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Vouchers, sometimes known as opportunity scholarships, generally refer to programs that allow parents to remove their eligible child from public schools and receive a voucher to pay for private school costs or other education services. A voucher may cover partial or full tuition at a private school. States’ voucher programs vary by student eligibility criteria, responsibilities of participating private schools, and other program specifics. As of 2020, 16 states, including Tennessee, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have voucher programs.

Three other types of programs that provide public funding support for parents that choose to move their children from public to non-public schools are:

  • individual tax credits and deductions, authorized in eight states,
  • tax-credit scholarships, authorized in 19 states, and
  • education savings accounts, authorized in five states, including Tennessee.

Individual tax credits and deductions allow parents to receive state income tax relief for approved educational expenses (such as private school tuition, books, supplies, computers, tutors, and transportation.) Tax credits lower the total taxes a person owes and deductions reduce a person’s total taxable income.

Tax-credit scholarships allow individuals and businesses to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. The amount of tax credits distributed is determined by state legislatures and affects the availability and size of the scholarships.

Education savings accounts allow parents to remove their child from a public school and receive public funds deposited into a government-authorized savings account for educational expenses (such as private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, educational therapies, and certain higher education expenses).

Tennessee’s Individualized Education Account is an education savings account that was established in law in 2015 and began serving students in January 2017.

See also

  • education savings account (ESA)
  • Individualized Education Account (IEA)

W

No terms

X

No Terms

Y

The Youth Development Centers (YDCs) in Tennessee house juvenile offenders who have committed multiple serious offenses. YDC facilities are hardware-secured, long-term confinement facilities for juvenile prisoners.

The Division of Juvenile Justice in the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) operates the state’s three Youth Development Centers: Wilder (Somerville), Woodland Hills (Nashville), and Mountain View (Dandridge). Each facility operates with year-round schools and intensive services for its students.

See also

  • Department of Children’s Services education services

Z

The phrase “zero tolerance” is frequently used to refer to efforts, such as the federal Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, to toughen school disciplinary actions for infractions that are considered severe. The federal act required all states to pass laws that would expel for one calendar year any student who brought a firearm to school. The federal law allows the director of schools or superintendent to modify the year-long expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis. Any state failing to enact such legislation would forfeit federal education aid. Tennessee passed its corresponding statute in 1995.

The Tennessee General Assembly has defined offenses other than possession of a firearm that should be treated in the same manner, i.e., student expulsion for one calendar year unless modified by the director of schools. In Tennessee, the state-mandated zero tolerance offenses are:

  • Possession, use, or distribution of illegal drugs
  • Possession of handgun
  • Possession of rifle or shotgun
  • Possession of explosive, incendiary device
  • Aggravated assault of teacher or staff

See also

  • expulsion
  • suspension